10 new State Fair food, drink items to try


August 3, 2017


The Island Torpedo Sandwich.

Submitted photo


WEST ALLIS - With 65 new food and beverage choices at this year’s Wisconsin State Fair, how do you choose?

Sometimes it’s the name alone. Other times it’s a desire for something sweet, other times something savory. Then there are times when something shouts “fair food!”

It’s not clear what inner voice shouts Cricket Nachos, as served at All Things Jerky.

“People are buzzing about the Cricket Nachos because they're pretty extreme,” said Kristin Chuckel, the State Fair communications director.

“I’ve been at the Wisconsin State Fair the last 50 years, and I'd say the last 15 years this food craze has been going on,” said Brandon Grebe, owner of Grebe’s Bakery of West Allis.

“I think bacon on a stick was the first item at the State Fair that people thought was nuts but they sold tons of them. And then people said, ‘Ooh, let's try something different,’” Grebe said.

Grebe’s has jumped in on the unique food bandwagon, going with beer-soaked donuts. Berry Weis goes well with jelly donuts, Grebe added.

This year’s Donut Ice Cream Sandwich was more of a lightning storm than brainstorm.

“Someone said at our main office: ‘Why don't we put some ice cream on a donut?’ Perfect. That was it,” Grebe said.

The ice cream is vanilla and about 12 to 15 donut varieties, including cruellers, will be used as the sandwich, said Grebe, who likes the apple Persian because it’s like apple pie, down to the cinnamon.

While sometimes the name is the most interesting thing about a fair food product, not so with this one.

“We didn’t get too fancy with the name,” Grebe said of the Donut Ice Cream Sandwich. “It's exactly what you get.”

The use of sticks and frying are also common in fair food - be it at the county or state level.

“You get a bunch of fair foods that are fried, but there are a lot of food items that are not fried,” Chuckel said.

Grebe thinks speed and safety are part of the appeal of fried foods. “It’s a Fair 101 thing,” he said.

While there’s a craze for new and different and trying to put almost anything on a stick, including wine, many food vendors stick with the tried and true.

It just comes down to marketing strategy, Chuckel said.

“The New Berlin Lions Club has people lined up for one item - the corn. People come because it’s fresh from the farm,” she said. “Real Wisconsin Grill has grilled cheese and people go for that.”

If you are in the mood for something new, here are 10 possibilities:

Deep-Fried Nutella

Well, you have to consider something deep-fried. It was just a matter of time before someone stuck hazelnut cocoa butter in a vat. Granny’s Cheesecake & More is doing just that at the fair.

Donut Ice Cream Sandwich

Kind of ditto the Nutella one as being inevitable. It took Grebe’s Bakery & Roast Coffee to put ice cream between a donut and ice cream in a sandwich.

Drunk Tots

This one gets the nod on just the name alone. The beer cheese and bacon are an added bonus at Knucklehead.

Fat Elvis Shake Shake Shake

Try it to say you had one. Warning: There won’t be room for much else. Sharing is an option. It’s peanut butter cup and banana ice cream with fried bacon bits, blended into a milkshake then topped with whipped cream, more bacon bits, chocolate sauce and a deep-friend mini Elvis, served in a peanut butter and chopped peanut-rimmed cup. Thank Slim’s Lakefront Brew Pub & Eatery.

Island Torpedo Sandwich

The combination of ingredients sounds promising. The sandwich on a roll boasts ground beef and Italian sausage topped with red sauce, queso blanco cheese and an island pepper mix. Get it at Tropics at the Fair.

Mousse-Stuffed Gelato Cones

One question: What took La Copa Artisan Gelato so long?

Popcorn Shrimp

You can get all fancy-schmancy or go with a solid classic like this new choice at the Shrimp Shack.

Sangria On-a-Stick

Popsicles for adults 21 and up for when it’s hot - or not. Made with Copa Di Vino wine, club soda, fruit juices and fruit puree. Designated drinkers can choose from red or white wine at Leadfoots Race Bar & Grill.

Steak Shish-Kabob

Juicy meat on a stick in classic fair style at Butcher Boys and George’s Fun Foods.

Unicorn Twinkie

Who knew they made Twinkies out of unicorns? Well, 3B Smores didn’t harm any actual unicorns. It’s the colors and glitter that give the treat the name. The deep-fried Twinkie with cotton candy filling is topped with bright pink and blue icing with edible glitter sprinkles.