No Fair! My Arteries Dodge a Bullet

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
9/28/2011 10:00 AM   :  78 comments   :  8,872 Views

See More: mr. bad food,
I live in northeastern Pennsylvania where recent flooding has had a devastating effect. Many people in nearby towns were displaced; a large number of them lost their homes. Others have a long road ahead to fix up what Mother Nature tore down or muddied up.
 
My family and I came through unscathed. We can count our blessings for that. We really dodged a bullet, but seeing what others have gone through really puts things in perspective.
 
I am overweight. That's not a really big deal when others lost their lives or had their world turned upside down by record-high flood waters.
 
Life and family are what really matters. The rest is gravy.
 
And speaking of gravy…
 
The record floods had a side effect that probably saved me from gaining a few more pounds and raising my cholesterol level a few notches. I'm talking about the fact that the annual Bloomsburg Fair has been canceled.
 
The fairgrounds have been flooded many times in the past, but the fair has always managed to take place. Not this year.
 
I'm sad. I've been attending the fair since I was a young child. I now have young children of my own and they look forward to the attractions, the entertainment and the rigged games... and, of course, the smorgasbord of fair food.
 
There's something about the aroma of fair foods wafting through the air that really kicks your hunger into overdrive. We joke about eating our way through the fair. But it's no joke. It's a chip-load of fat, calories and cholesterol.
 
During a recent annual visit, I feasted on a savory sausage and peppers sandwich, two slices of pizza, a sauce-soaked gyro, caramel corn, a waffle and ice cream sandwich, a blue raspberry snow cone, and a large soft drink or two.
 
And then there were the deep-fried Oreos.
 
What is it about fairs and deep frying all things edible?
 
I think nutritionists everywhere would agree that plunging food into super-hot oil is far from the best way to cook. Sure, the act of deep-frying makes things flavorful and crunchy, but baking and broiling will give you a crunch you with a lot less bad stuff
 
So, I guess the philosophy is if a food – Oreos, pickles, butter, Mars bars, Twinkies and even Kool-Aid – already tastes very good, then heck... let's deep fry it and make it even better!
 
The foods I mention above have all been deep-fried. Each year it seems like someone dreams up yet another doozy. The deep-fried Kool-Aid seems to be this year's doozy.
 
Back to my deep-fried Oreos experience. I love Oreos. Who doesn't? But having my Oreo served as a gooey, hot mess is not a fun way to enjoy them. Personally, I'd rather have them crumbled up and served over ice cream.
 
Anyway, my point is that the fair experience lowers our guard. I can't see me sitting in a nice restaurant and ordering deep-fried Oreos or frickles (fried pickles--over 1,000 calories and 24 g fat in each order!). But I can see me walking down the midway with a deep-fried object dangling from a stick.
 
The father of a friend of mine once said, “Put anything on a stick and people will buy it.” I think he's right.
 
Just know that such “treats” will really stick it to your diet, not to mention your heart and waistline.
 
According to WebMD, the Minnesota State Fair, for example, 54 varieties of food on a stick at this year's fair. Gosh... I'm envious. The Minnesota fair has 54 food items on sticks!
 
This same feature notes that you can find stomach-friendlier fare at the fair. Somewhat surprisingly, cotton candy – which is simply colored spun sugar – is considered a better choice than a deep-fried anything. I guess it doesn't take that much sugar to make a cloud of cotton candy. (625 calories but zero grams fat in an entire bag of the fluffy stuff. Just be sure to share it.)
 
I could list the truly healthy fair foods, but I know most of us put our diets on hold when we hit the fair or carnival. And that's OK. Just don't be a pig like I was year I mention above.
 
A tip for enjoying junk without overdoing it: buy a single order of whatever food or drink it is you like and SHARE it with the others in your group. That way you get a taste without the side of guilt and the next-day self-punishment of, “I can't believe I ate the whole thing!”
 
Go to the fair. Go see the two-headed calves and the weird guy who hammers nails into his nose. Walk around a lot, have loads of laughs and enjoy a few of your favorite fair foods.
 
Just don't play the carnival games. They're rigged!
 
What is your favorite fair food? Do you eat it or avoid it?


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Comments

  • 78
    ewww at our fair this year they had deep fried chocolate covered bacon. honestly, who comes up with these? and NO I did not try it! - 10/5/2011   1:47:05 PM
  • 77
    Best thing (for me) about being vegan is that I don't have to worry about fair food - even though the bakery smell is always tantalizing. - 10/4/2011   4:26:45 AM
  • PANACHE62
    76
    Our fair has fried butter - 10/3/2011   8:01:58 PM
  • 75
    I loved reading this blog. It's so true how we let down our guard when we're having fun at the fair, or the carnival, or bowling, or , or, or, even at a restaurant!
    (eww, deep fried dill pickle?) - 10/3/2011   12:13:18 PM
  • VANANDEL
    74
    I live in Colorado and overall, we have a much healthier lifestyle. But there is some fried food at our fairs and festivals. And plenty of other unhealthy, non-fried food too. I have indulged in some of that, but it leaves me feeling bad. Several times in the last few years I've actually brought my own food to these festivals. My husband will buy fair food while I happily eat what I brought. He doesn't buy fried stuff - neither of us like that, and he usually admits that what I bring is better (tastier) than what he just bought. For us, it's a treat we can afford because we don't to it often - but we wouldn't want to eat it often either. - 10/2/2011   5:53:14 PM
  • 73
    It's a toss up between sausage on a stick and funnel cakes with a side of well-sugared lemonade. Avoid it? Are you kidding? The last time I went was 5 years ago. - 10/2/2011   3:56:41 PM
  • 72
    I do have to say that I have enjoyed may fairs in FL, PA and the NY state fair (awesomely HUGE!!). My hubby can't go to one without piggy out on something totally unhealthy. I on the other hand, rarely indulge in fair food. Maybe because I'm kind of a particular person. I can't fathum the idea of 40,000 corndogs (or any food) being cooked in the same oil for weeks on end. I guess that's the OCD in me LOL. I can say that I have enjoyed a couple funnel cakes before, but only on the very first day and within an hour of the fair opening. My gosh I sound like a horrible person. How does he put up with me LOL. - 10/2/2011   3:28:10 PM
  • 71
    Oh, but I was sad too that the Fair was cancelled. I think I need to come up with some healthy versions of the foods I couldn't have there--who can tell me a waist-friendly recipe for a peach dumpling??? :0) - 10/2/2011   11:09:10 AM
  • 70
    I haven't been to a fair in years and aside from the usual culprits the only "bad" thing I ate was a deep fried Mars bar one time at an English Fish and Chip shop I went with my sister's husband. - 10/1/2011   3:01:50 PM
  • 69
    I have to agree with NELLIEC... none of these foods sound interesting to me. Maybe it's because I go to too many baseball games. I see hot dogs, pizza, cotton candy, kettle corn, snow cones, churros, etc so often that they aren't tempting any more. - 10/1/2011   1:58:45 PM
  • 68
    When young, I went to the Wyoming State Fair every year. I never missed the italian sausage sandwich full of fried onions and bell peppers. Then topped it off with a caramel apple and lots of lemonade.

    This summer I attended a fair with my grandkids in Omaha, Nebraska...we shared a huge cotton candy and all got properly sticky! - 9/30/2011   6:20:49 PM
  • 67
    Well, at the risk of being thought of as a troglodyte, none of the fair foods attract me! Blech! - 9/30/2011   12:25:04 PM
  • 66
    Well, at the risk of being thought of as a troglodyte, none of the fair foods attract me! Blech! - 9/30/2011   12:24:05 PM
  • 65
    The Western Washington state fair, also known as the Puyallup happened earlier this month. I ignored the fried everything vendor - but noted that they had added fried butter to thier offerings. I stick to one freshly baked scone that the fair is famous for 125 years and counting. I also enjoyed a nut covered ice ceam on a stick. This year, I resisted the large burgers opting for a few tacos. There were fresh water stations everywhere with water in the office style cold water dipensers so I did not have any soft drinks at all. - 9/30/2011   10:56:15 AM
  • HOLLY404040
    64
    Our group has chicken cutting parties for the fair. There are a few groups that serve "healthy" stuff to go with the fried cheese cake. - 9/30/2011   10:04:29 AM
  • 63
    I missed my fair that I always attend yearly because I had foot surgery in August. And of course, it had perfect weather all week for the first time in many, many years..While I love the curly fries (one single peel from a fresh whole potato, I always have a meal of boiled perogies with sour cream, beet soup and a home made pie for dessert.. - 9/30/2011   8:42:06 AM
  • 62
    The Pensacola, Florida Fair is October 20-30th and I always love going, but I don't eat much except the BBQ as that is really good. The kids get funnel cakes and ice cream sandwiches, but not the "Fried Butter' kind of stuff. All of the walking we do takes away what we eat. The FAIR is great fun. Oh, and we love to get the FUDGE. - 9/29/2011   11:19:00 PM
  • 61
    I, too, am an NEPA-er, and while I'm bummed about the fair being canceled (and feel terrible for the people of Bloomsburg), you make a good point. And although some of the fair vendors have set up their makeshift fair, I don't have a burning desire to drive up for a few food stands alongside a major highway. I appreciate that they need the business and are trying to keep the fair spirit alive for 2011, but my waistline will thank me. - 9/29/2011   8:14:55 PM
  • RUNESHADOW
    60
    Fair fries! Skinny soft french fries... shared with grandkids. My daughter and I went to the Ohio State Fair for the first time in at least 12-15 years. The Fair had the deep-fried Oreos (gag me) etc... even deep-fried SnoCones. ??? I shared the fries, and had one [regular] SnoCone. I adore fudge, and bought two small cubes to bring home and savor on two other days. I'm just sorry we didn't find an elephant ear for my daughter, her favorite she hasn't had in 8 or 9 years (also featured at other festivals in town). I am sure we passed stands with them, but not when she wanted one! We don't eat fried stuff on sticks, don't see the attraction, but to each his own (or her own). For a rare occurrence, I don't see a problem. But if you want to tote or seek out healthy foods, that's fine. I miss going to county fairs; ours is not on the busline and we don't drive. They have fair fries, too, lol. - 9/29/2011   7:40:01 PM
  • 59
    It's been so long, since I've been to a fair. I do like beaver tails. I'm a Canadian...they are a big flat pastry covered in sugar. - 9/29/2011   7:29:23 PM
  • 58
    Went to HarvestFest recently & saw they were making elephant ears. Used to love them, but I just can't picture myself eating them any more. - 9/29/2011   4:37:12 PM
  • 57
    I haven't been to a fair in years (was going to try this year, but missed it), but those things on a stick never interested me. I have had the Indian Bread (which is probably the same as the elephant ears, or close to it). Usually I had just normal stuff like KFC chicken and root beer, cinnamon rolls and fresh squeezed lemonade. That last one you don't find too many places around here other than fairs, though. - 9/29/2011   4:31:55 PM
  • 56
    I have to take exception with the idea that cotton candy is a safer food. Sugar raises insulin levels, which in turn causes the storing of fat in the body. The deep fried stuff COULD be better IF the fat they fry it in isn't hydrogenated or, even better, if it's coconut oil, both of which are unlikely. There was a study done in the 1930s which compared 4 diets of 1000 calories: a 90% carb diet, a 90% protein diet, a 90% fat diet, and a mixed diet. The ones on the fat diet lost the most weight. Those on the carb diet lost the least, and some even gained on the carb diet. Those on the protein diet did well, but it is not healthy to eat that much protein. It stresses the kidneys. - 9/29/2011   2:17:59 PM
  • 55
    Haven't been to a Fair in Ages but my favorite fair or carnival food: Funnel Cakes & Corn Dogs...I guess I could add those Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls. But Like I said...haven't been...lol - 9/29/2011   2:07:24 PM
  • MRBADFOOD
    54
    Elephant ears are just another name for fried dough... because sometimes your flat, fried dough is so big is resembles an elephant's ear! - 9/29/2011   1:23:09 PM
  • 53
    I haven't been to a fair in so long that I cannot remember the last time. I think I will try to make it to our fair this year - it's just over in Dallas, about 50 miles away. Fried butter was one I heard about last year. Doesn't even make my mouth water!
    - 9/29/2011   1:14:47 PM
  • 52
    I'm such a stick in the mud! I don't really like fairs, the Colorado State Fair is in the HOTTEST town in the state & the fair is in late August! Something about thousands of people & 100 degree heat & yes, ofcourse, the smell of fried food, doesn't appeal to me. But, to answer the question why they fry everything @ fairs, what I just said! Not to be too nerdy, but we taste with all of our senses, including smell & when you fry foods in increases the smell & gets you hungry! I'm a veghead, but still when I smell BBQ, I get hungry! - 9/29/2011   12:23:29 PM
  • KWORTHY2
    51
    Wow, I am from NC and I look forward to going to the State Fair which is coming up soon. I never thought about all the fried goodies:( I will have to take the suggestions of eating before we go. - 9/29/2011   12:22:42 PM
  • 2DIETORNOT2DIET
    50
    Would someone please tell me whar an elephant ears is I have never heard of them, I love the snow cones at the fair not much of deep fried person to greasey - 9/29/2011   10:15:31 AM
  • 49
    I love the fried dough with butter and cinnamon sugar but haven't had any in years since I haven't been to the fair in many years - 9/29/2011   9:42:40 AM
  • 48
    I am also in Pennsylvania, but more to the south (between Harrisburg and Reading) and my thing is funnel cakes. I LOVE funnel cakes. The year I worked at Hershey Park, I ate one every time I went into the park to 'play.' I ate a lot of them that year! I did a few fairs this summer, all to see the bands playing and made it a habit to:

    1. eat before I went (if I a m not hungry, it is easier to resist temptation) and
    2. not stay the entire day. (the less time I am around temtation, the better I am)

    I think I only had one funnel cake this summer, and that was very early in the season. I had French fries twice I think. Sharing is a great option, but I live alone, generally attend these things alone, so it is easier for me to just not buy the stuff, plus each time I DO indulge in something deep fried, it only re-awakens my taste buds.

    I was also fortunate to be spared any flood damage when so many around me, even right next door, had water-filled basements. There were many eventss that were cancelled due to the flooding, and right before that was Huricane Irene, keeepoing me home from another. - 9/29/2011   9:30:35 AM
  • 47
    I always looked forward to the Grange Fair in Centre Hall, PA growing up and later in life (high school/college) I usually gravitated to the apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream. That's a great Fall food and I guess kind of healthy because it's got an apple in there...right? :) Now I live in NC and the NC State Fair is one awesome fair. The "Krispy Kreme Burger" was all the rage last year and though I was curious and would have loved to have a bite of someone else's, I decided to save myself the artery-blocking calories. I opted for a funnel cake instead. ;) - 9/29/2011   9:23:39 AM
  • 46
    Our S.F. offers 'turkey legs'--they are fried, but not on sticks...however, they are also only marginally turkey. One of my friends bought one; it was a pinkish color, and tasted, she said, like ham (she's Jewish, so this was an issue). Confronted the vendor, who finally admitted it was made of pressed turkey, with ham base injected, then moulded to a bone. HOW is that a turkey leg? Her protest got her a refund. - 9/29/2011   8:58:59 AM
  • 45
    Thanks for sharing. Glad to hear you missed the worst of the flooding. I used to live up in the Tunkhannock area which really got wolloped. I grew up in northern NJ where we had a 4H fair every year. It was the highlight of the summer to go and "eat" your way through the fairgrounds. Cotton candy, limeades, gyros, funnel cakes, you name it. Then I went off to college in Bloomsburg, PA where the fair is held. Smart town, they hold the fair after the fall semester starts so I could go to the fair at home in NJ then a few weeks later relive my fair feasting at the Bloom fair! Its no wonder I gained the freshman 40 instead of the freshman 15! Today, I live in the south where fairs don't seem to call to me anymore. When I do attend carnivals, festivals, or fairs I try to have a game plan in place so I don't overindulge. - 9/29/2011   8:12:31 AM
  • 44
    So true about stuff on a stick. You think fried oreos are bad, keep an eye out (or turn a blind eye) to fried cheesecake on a stick! - 9/29/2011   7:39:14 AM
  • KAKIPOPUP
    43
    I'm in New England - fried dough with maple cream... - 9/29/2011   5:15:36 AM
  • MEGMEGMEG3
    42
    Im from Minnesota and yes we do put everything on a stick at our fair. :) - 9/29/2011   3:56:45 AM
  • MELLOWMOOD97
    41
    I am from NEPA too and am eternally grateful for the levees!!!

    So sad about the fair but I am glad the temptation is gone:) - 9/28/2011   10:39:52 PM
  • 40
    Cotton candy is the one treat that gets me every time. That and elephant ears. - 9/28/2011   8:13:06 PM
  • 39
    We always loved going to the Bloomsburg Fair, always saw a great country group/singer, and always didn't leave until we got funnel cakes! Bad for you? Yeah, but sooooo good! - 9/28/2011   7:54:18 PM
  • 38
    I've never been to a state fair :( - 9/28/2011   4:37:21 PM
  • 37
    last year when i went, i had planned to go one time and enjoy the food since i am usually so good. So, in my head i planned out what i would enjoy eating there. Oh the list was a mile long! But, when i got there, everything i saw just didn't look good to me at all and i didn't crave anything. I finally ended up just having an elephant ear, since that was the one thing i felt i couldn't live without! I shared it with my husband and i was totally satisfied.

    I have done "dieting" off and on throughout my life...this time i feel like i can be more successful because i was able to break through the mental bond between food and happiness. Since i started losing weight, i have found myself needing the "cheat day" less and less. I might have a treat once in a while, but i really don't think about it the same way anymore. YAY :) - 9/28/2011   4:13:26 PM
  • 36
    I love the fairs in So. California, especially the LA County Fair. It's so huge! I definitely do LOTS of walking there. And there's so much to see, the food is a small part of the fair for me. Luckily, I don't like fried foods. My favorites are caramel apples, which aren't too bad as far as treats go. And there are good kabobs and greek salad at all the fairs now. My big splurge is Dr. Bob's ice cream at the L.A. Fair -- made right on the fairgrounds. It's soooo yummy! It's actually sold in a few stores, but I only buy my one (huge) scoop at the fair every year so that its more of a special treat. I'll eat healthy the rest of the day just so I can have that one splurge. - 9/28/2011   4:08:36 PM
  • 35
    When I was a kid, I used to go the local fair every summer, and always, ALWAYS had to have an elephant ear. I would sit and eat it with a fork and knife, piece by piece, and it was divine.

    Then when I became a teenager, I grew to realize what an unsavory place my local fair really was - especially when one of the ride operators winked lasciviously at my friend and I (both 15 at the time, but we looked about 12) every time we passed him on the Ferris wheel. Gross. So I stopped going to the fair, and subsequently have not had an elephant ear in years!

    And looking at the picture in this blog post, I don't really miss it - yuck! - 9/28/2011   3:18:48 PM
  • 34
    ROFL...Thanks for such a great blog. The reason for the laugh, I am heading to the Fall Festival, this Saturday in my hometown! I am driving 3.5 hours to get there!! I have been figuring out all week what in the world am I going to eat there!!! I am mainly going for the crafts and to spend time with family and friends. This festival has been an annual invent for over 20 years now! I have missed the last few due to work/moving/health and I was bound and determined to go this year. Anyway, back to the food...I LOVE MY FUNNEL CAKES! It brings back wonderful memories of childhood when our family would attend the county fair in my parents hometown. There is nothing better then hot fresh fried dough with a little powder sugar sprinkled on it! But this year it is off limits. Most of the food will be and I hope I have to will power to say No Thank You! I am on a No Wheat diet. I do not have Celiac but believe I have a wheat intolerance as well as my husband is allergic to it! So this year it will be the roasted turkey legs and roasted corn on the cob. Not as gooey and delicious as all that other festival food but my body will thank me later! - 9/28/2011   3:08:33 PM
  • 33
    You haven't lived until you've visited the Minnesota State Fair! I actually make it through fairly unscathed each year mostly because I'm a vegetarian but also because I militantly share anything I eat. We always sop grease off the fried cheese curds before eating them and I try to restrict my eating to things you truly can't get at other times - sweet corn ice cream this year. - 9/28/2011   2:55:34 PM
  • MRBADFOOD
    32
    I did not place the image or I would have commented on it. Yes, it is indeed the famous -- or infamous -- funnel from which funnel cakes are squirted into a sea of hot oil! Reading all these great responses has made me hungry!!!!!! Good thing I just got serious about dieting this past Monday. I had a few sunflower seeds as a mid-afternoon snack. :o) - 9/28/2011   2:16:10 PM
  • 31
    To anynone who does not recognize the picture (which does look gross by the way), it's the ubiquitous funnel cakes they serve at carnivals.

    Anyway, I usually don't go for any fried food. If I'm at a fair, carnival, amusement park or whatever, I like to get a gyro, which I consider healthier than a lot of other things, and I share cotton candy with my family. I haven't had a funnel cake or elephant ear for years. However, in the fall when we go to the pumpkin patch, we will get an order of caramel apple fries and share them. They are apple slices dipped in batter, deep fried and topped with caramel and whipped cream.

    I have never had a deep fried twinkie, oreo, or anything like that. I do admit to trying deep fried pickles one time and I didn't like them. - 9/28/2011   2:08:25 PM
  • GAARAMA
    30
    So sorry so many in your community suffered lose of home and life. We should all be thankful for what we have. I hope your community has begun to heal.

    I like your blog and it came at a very good time because I will be going to the fair this weekend. Aw the smells of greasy food fair. My choice of indulges is corn on the cob,hot dog on a stick, baked potato and a bag of kettle corn to go. Sharing is a fantastic idea, this will be my plan of action. Thank you.
    - 9/28/2011   2:06:15 PM
  • 29
    I'm the dork who showed up to our local fair this year with a backpack full of tupperwares... I got the oreos (I think they're heavenly), a chocolate cream puff (local newspaper estimated it at 800 calories), ate half a slice of spinach/tomato/garlic bread, and packed up most of it in tupperwares and stretched it out for 2 weeks. Cream puff turned into 3 dessert servings, Oreos were savored one at a time, and the spinach bread was half dinner that night and then lunch a few days later. It all fit into my $20 food budget, and while none of it was really a good choice, I think spreading it all out over the next week or so made it much less awful than it had the potential to be. : )
    - 9/28/2011   2:03:57 PM

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