All’s Fair in Love and State Fair Food, From the Colossal to the Unusual

The folks at the Indiana State Fair did something interesting recently. They sat down and calculated, based on years of statistics from vendors, what 978,000 people would eat as they filtered through the concession stand-packed midway during the now just-ended event. Here are the Indiana State Fair food stats:

State Fair Show Popper

  • 14,000 pounds of pork chops (Indiana ranks in the top five pork producing states.)
  • 14,285 pounds of hot dogs (See note above about pork.)
  • 56,000 rib eye steaks
  • 37,160 milkshakes
  • 20,000 dips of ice cream
  • 10,459 deep-fried Snickers bars
  • 4,350 pounds of Pop Weaver popcorn (The company is a corporate sponsor and Indiana is also in the top five of corn producing states.)
  • 6,510 pounds of popcorn used to create a world-record popcorn ball
  • 3,360 pounds of smoked sausage.

Of course, there are variations on state fair food usage from state to state. At the Iowa State Fair, there are butter sculpting competitions and an annual tradition of a butter cow, which is formed out of more than 600 pounds of the creamy stuff. There’s even a vendor in Iowa who started frying butter back in 2011 to celebrate the cow’s 100th birthday.

Of course, it seems like late every summer and early each fall there are new stories about unusual state fair fare as vendors vie to outdo each other and net some attention to set themselves apart on the midway. While the deep-fried Oreo once seemed wild, it’s now commonplace along with the burger with a Krispy Kreme doughnut for a bun that made news in the pastry chain’s home of North Carolina a few years ago. Snagging the headlines now are things like spaghetti and meatballs on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair, a mealworm-covered caramel apple at the Arizona Exposition & State Fair, and deep-fried Kool-Aid and avocados in California. For those who haven’t been paying attention, frying anything ingestible for shock value and/or to experiment with new flavors is big at the fair.

In some instances, the news-making foods of this year’s state fairs are little more than regional fare taken to the midway. Southerners have eaten pickles brined in Kool-Aid (it’s showing up a lot in recent menus, eh?) for years, but the offering of “Koolickles” at the North Carolina State Fair this year has grabbed attention. Meanwhile, the Pickle Sickle, a Texas treat of frozen pickle brine that has been around for years, is piquing interest in 2013 at state fairs across the Midwest. Maybe we Southerners have a problem with pickles.

From Butter Fryers to Pickle Juice Freezers, Trust KaTom to Supply Your State Fair Food Stand

KaTom Restaurant Supply has been the go-to source for countless concession stands, from the midway to the stadium, for more than two-and-a-half decades. We’ve got a guide to help you get all the right equipment for your temporary eatery and all the equipment it calls for. If you need assistance stocking your eatery, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-541-8683 or

Derek Hodges
Derek Hodges

Derek Hodges is a proud North Carolinian who moved to Tennessee in 2006 to preach the gospel of Cheerwine and mix some Tar Heel blue in with all the orange. He has made wonderful friends who tolerate occasional remarks like those above. He and his wife Amanda enjoy spending weekends at Dollywood and trying to convince their dog Shiloh to get over his fear of swimming.

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