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Iowa State Fair Foods on Sticks Instagram: ryn111; mbericson

As legend has it, food on a stick became a popular staple at state fairs across the United States because of a dispute between carnival workers, or “Carnies,” and the state fair concession workers, or “Cessies” (pronounced sesh-ee-s), during the Georgia State Fair of 1908. Upset that they weren’t receiving enough of a cut of the money, jewelry, and children Carnies were conning or outright stealing from unsuspecting state fair attendees, sausage vendor Lazurus “Foot Meat” Johnson — so named for the animal meats he used in his sausages — offered an ultimatum to his Carnie brethren on behalf of the Cessies.

Either the Carnies recognize the importance of the role the Cessies and their fair food played in the carnival grifts — by offering liquor and encouragement to degenerate gamblers and, most importantly of all, serving greasy, hand-held foods with no silverware so that the hands of state fair attendees would be too slick to hit their mark in ring toss or properly wield the strongman sledgehammer, and what have you — or forever lose the allegiance of the Cessies.

The greedy Carnies, of course, declined Foot Meat Johnson’s proposal. In response, Johnson and the Cessies began to serve all of their foods on sticks, so as to keep the hands of the carnival game players clean, and allowing the state fair attendees a free hand to swat away the pickpockets, who owed a cut of all thieved items and money to the Carnies. To further wound the Carnies’ scams, a butter pie vendor by the name of Josiah Napkin began handing out rags with his meals so that customers could further clean their hands of grease and sauce before playing the Carnie games.

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Carnie profits soon plummeted, and they begged Foot Meat Johnson, Josiah Napkin, and the other Cessies to stop serving their foods on sticks. Unfortunately for the Carnies, the new food on a stick was a hit with the people. Foot Meat Johnson became such a success that he started his own sausage company, known today as Johnsonville Bratwursts. Josiah Napkin, meanwhile, died of tuberculosis the next year, having never invented anything.

Anyway, all of that is made up, but it’s the story of food on a stick that I want to be true.

More importantly, though, Darren Rovell tweeted a list of all the food that will be served on a stick at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines this year — 82 in total — and my God my heart is in pain just reading through this glorious list of impaled ice cream, cookie dough, and corn dogs.

Here’s the full list. It’s a mouthful.

  • Apple Fritter Bites
  • Apple Pie On-A-Stick
  • Bacon Wrapped Riblet
  • Bacon-Wrapped Smokies
  • Cajun Chicken
  • Cake Pops
  • Caprese Salad On-a-Stick
  • Caramel Apple
  • Caramel Cocoa Crispy Crunch
  • Carmellows
  • Cheddar Bacon Cheese On A Stick
  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Chocolate-Covered Cheesecake
  • Chocolate Covered Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • Chocolate Covered Chunky Bacon Maple Nougat On-a-stick
  • Chocolate Covered Cookies N Cream On-a-stick
  • Chocolate-Covered Deep Fried Cheesecake
  • Chocolate-Covered Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich
  • Chocolate-Covered Key Lime Dream Bar
  • Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Bar
  • Coconut Mountain
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Cornbrat (bratwurst dipped in corndog batter)
  • Corndog
  • Cotton Candy
  • Crazy Tater
  • Deep Fried Brownie
  • Deep Fried Sweet Corn Corndog
  • Deep-Fried Milky Way
  • Deep-Fried Snickers
  • Deep-Fried Twinkie
  • Double Bacon Corn Dog
  • Dutch Letter
  • Egg on a Stick
  • Fair Square (Original, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Marshmallow Malt flavors)
  • Fried Fruit Kabob
  • Fruit (with yogurt dipping sauce)
  • Funnel Bacon On A Stick
  • Funnel Cake Sticks
  • German Sausage
  • Gluten Free Corndog – NEW in 2015
  • Golden Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly on a Stick
  • Griddle Stick (turkey sausage wrapped in a pancake)
  • Hard-Boiled Egg
  • Honey
  • Hot Bologna
  • Hot Dog
  • Hot Lips (breaded chicken breast smothered with hot sauce, served with blue cheese dressing)
  • Ice Cream Wonder Bar
  • Italian Bacon Wrap On A Stick
  • Jalapeno Corndog
  • Jumbo Toasted Marshmallow On-a-stick
  • Kabob Combo
  • Kernel Kluster
  • Lamb Sausage (brat)
  • Loaded Tators On A Stick
  • Mexican Grilled Corn On-the-Cob
  • Monkey Tail (chocolate-covered banana)
  • Nutty Bar
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Pickle
  • Pineapple (fresh pineapple dipped in funnel cake batter and deep fried)
  • Pork Chop
  • Push-ups
  • Rainbow Popsicle
  • Rib Shack Cowboy
  • Rock Candy
  • Salad
  • Sesame Chicken
  • Shrimp Corndog
  • Smoothie
  • Soft Salted Chocolate Dipped Almond Pretzel
  • Spicy Shrimp
  • Tater Dog On-a-stick
  • Teriyaki Beef
  • Toasted Coconut Caramel Cluster
  • Turkey Drumstick
  • Turkey Tenderloin
  • Ultimate Bacon Brisket Bomb
  • Unicorn Lollipops
  • Veggie Corndog

Oh yeah. Give it all to me. If I were attending the Iowa State Fair, I would pretty much immediately inhale a cornbrat. Easily the best new food I’ve heard of. It makes so much sense but I have never thought of or tried it. Also, anything bacon-wrapped would be down my throat before I finished ordering it. Dessert-wise I’m all about that monkey tail a.k.a. a chocolate covered banana, though an apple eggroll doesn’t sound too bad either (except, you know, health-wise).

As far as weak spots on the list go, I’m as big of a fan of Caprese salad as the next guy, but on a stick? At a fair? Get the hell out of here. Nothing about that makes my heart quiver in anticipation of irreversible arterial blockage. Deep fry something that was already wildly unhealthy before the batter and grease or don’t come to play.

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Rob Fox About the author:
Rob Fox is a writer, comedian, and producer based in Austin, TX. God made him left-handed to hide his own averageness from him.
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