State Fair Fare
In a major upset, Froot Loops were completely bypassed at the State Fair of Texas' 13th Annual Big Tex Awards, announced at a judging ceremony on August 27. And yet, one dish won two awards: Props to the Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger, the big winner, earning trophies both for "Most Creative" and for "Best Taste Savory." Winning for "Best Taste Sweet" was Gulf Coast Fish Bowl, a cocktail with blue punch.
The Big Tex Awards, aka the "fried food awards," is the splashy annual event in which concessionaires submit creations they'll serve at the fair that year. The contest has not only become one of the biggest publicity generators for the State Fair, but it has lent a modern facade to what was previously a declining, dowdy event. Prior winners have included fried butter and fried Jell-O.
This year, Fair organizers increased the total finalists from eight to 10. Also for the first time, they handed out three awards instead of two. Previously, it was "Best Taste" and "Most Creative." This year, they broke the Best Taste category into "Sweet" and "Savory."
Would it be considered a backfire that one dish won two awards? Having one dish win two awards is surely not the outcome they anticipated. Meanwhile, that must be one heckuva Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger.
The full list of finalists included:
Deep Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick. Homestyle chicken noodle soup deep fried and served on a stick.
Deep Fried Froot Loops. Sweetened Froot Loops folded into marshmallow, dipped in batter, and fried.
Fat Smooth. Three mini cream puffs on a skewer.
Fernie's Fried Texas Sheet Cake. Chocolate brownie cake coated in panko and ground cocoa puffs and fried.
Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger. Burger with bacon and queso on two funnel cake "buns."
Gulf Coast Fish Bowl. A cocktail with blue alcoholic punch served in a round plastic cup that's meant to look like an aquarium.
Pinot Noir Popcorn. Cheddar-cheese flavored kettle corn dusted with a Pinot Noir burgundy wine powder.
Surfin' Turfin' Tator Boat. Baked potato stuffed with lobster and steak.
Texas Fajita Fries. Meat "fries" made of breaded beef fajita strips, seasoned with Sriracha and served in a bread cone.
The Tamale Donut. Pork tamale served in a doughnut shape.
While the additional number of entries amped up the volume, it also threatened to bog down the judging event. To "help move time along," each savory finalist was supposedly randomly selected to be paired with a sweet finalist.
Deep Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick was paired with Pinot Noir Popcorn. Texas Fajita Fries were paired with Fat Smooth. Surfin' Turfin' Tator Boat was paired with the Gulf Coast Fish Bowl cocktail. The Tamale Donut was paired with the Deep Fried Froot Loops. The two heaviest items, the Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger and the Texas Fried Sheet Cake, were last.
Could the pairings have had an effect on the ultimate winners? That seems like a definite possibility. Nothing against the Tamale Donut, but is it possible it dragged down the Froot Loops, which was surely the rightful winner?