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Ohio State Fair serves up sweet treats and wild eats

Christopher Braun / design editor

I entered the Ohio State Fair with only one thing on my mind: food. I’ve forever been a fan of the street food at most fairs and festivals, but having normally stuck to the classic corndogs and funnel cakes in the past, I was on the lookout for something bizarre.

After walking the full perimeter of food stands and feeling like Anthony Bourdain, I decided to start my dining extravaganza with a bacon cheeseburger between two Krispy Kreme Donuts, compliments of Don Kenna.

Kenna, who has been selling his fresh-grilled donut burgers for three years, has traveled throughout the Midwest selling his unusual delicacies.

“They’re the best,” Kenna said with a chuckle. “They’re different. That’s the main item, but they’re also good. We’ve never had one brought back with any complaints. I’ve sold thousands and thousands of them, and that kind of speaks for itself.”

Even as someone who enjoys anything unhealthy and on a donut, I have to admit I was a little nervous taking my first bite, but I was sold as soon as I finally fit the four-inch thick sandwich into my mouth. It was certainly like nothing I’d ever tasted before, but the contrast between the savory burger and fluffy donut left me wanting another as soon as I finished.

But I had to stay focused. A whole world of fair food awaited me.

Left pleased, though thirsty, I made my way to Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co., a Western-style truck with seven sodas on tap and owned by Scott Crites.

After discovering the original Wild Bill’s six years ago in New Jersey, Crites fell for the idea and has been traveling with a cart of his own ever since.

“I met the guy who started the company before he was actually selling any stands, at that time he was just running the one by himself,” Crites said. “I just loved the concept, loved how it’s unique. I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity if he ever wanted to expand, so I gave him my number and eventually we struck up a deal.”

After browsing the flavors, which included everything from Gatling Grape to Vintage Vanilla Cream, I decided on Rocky Mountain Root Beer, Wild Bill’s most popular soda. While a great deal more comfortable with this selection than my previous, I was left no less satisfied. Wild Bill’s root beer was the best I’d ever tasted, earthy and not overly sweetened.

Next stop was dessert. At first, too many choices filled my conscience, but I finally decided I was set on something deep fried, which narrowed the choices from, approximately, everything to almost everything. Then, like a light at the end of the tunnel, I found exactly what I was searching for, a booth with only three words scripted on the banner above it: “Deep-Fried Buckeyes.”

I approached the stand with deep-fried peanut butter and chocolate on my mind, only to find that I had tough choices ahead of me, yet. The menu also included, but was not limited to, deep-fried Oreos, Snickers, grilled cheese and the deep-fried Twinkie. The latter eventually won my decision.

If you have never had a deep-fried Twinkie, I advise you keep it that way. Otherwise, you’ll be hooked like me after your first bite and purchase a second immediately afterward. While delicious and life-altering, this deep-fried snack cake left me unable to even look at any spinning fair ride.

Full and unable to think about taking another sugar-coated bite, I made my way to the fair’s exit on 11th Avenue, pleased with my choices and already planning my next visit.

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