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Deep-fried foods stand at Maryland State Fair draws curiosity and customers

Ashley Wade of Timonium eats a fried Snickers bar at the deep-fried food tent during the kickoff of the 129th Maryland State Fair.
Ashley Wade of Timonium eats a fried Snickers bar at the deep-fried food tent during the kickoff of the 129th Maryland State Fair. (Lloyd Fox/baltimore Sun)

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By Arthur Hirsh
Baltimore Sun
Sunday, August 29, 2010

While ambling through the Maryland State Fair on opening day Friday morning, Belinda Bonds thought she'd stop for a few Oreo cookies, but not just any Oreo cookies. These were dipped in batter and deep-fried and then, because that would hardly do, coated in powdered sugar.

"It's fair food," said Bonds, of Columbia. "Where else would you get this kind of disgustingness?"

Indeed, the 129th Maryland State Fair, running through Sept. 6 at the Timonium Fairgrounds, offers a wide range of food options: funnel cakes, kettle corn, cotton candy, corn dogs, egg rolls, crab cakes, barbecue, even fresh produce at the farmers market. For many people, though, the essence of the fair experience is to be found at the deep-fry stand, where a cook will drop an astonishing array of battered items into 350-degree oil.

New this year at the stand, which has been at the Maryland State Fair for six years, are deep-fried strawberry Pop-Tarts, s'mores and peanut-butter/chocolate balls called Buckeyes. The menu also includes deep-fried Snickers, 3 Musketeers and Milky Way candy bars, Twinkies, Nutter Butter cookies and, yes, an entire peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich on white bread.

Every so often, someone strolls by, looks up at the menu and exclaims, "Oh, my God."

The fry stand might be the food equivalent of the Bearded Lady or the Lizard Boy, bygone midway attractions meant to defy belief.

"It's intriguing," said Aaron Wade, a resident of Timonium. "It's something different. It definitely makes you want to stop."

And so he did, with his sister, Ashley Wade, who is also from Timonium. He ordered the PB&J; she got the Snickers.

"Oh, this is insane," Aaron said as he was handed his order. The sandwich wasn't served on a stick, so he had to wait a bit for it to cool, then dived right in.

"That's really interesting," Aaron said. "It still maintains the peanut butter and jelly, but with a different consistency."

Gooier, of course, as Ashley discovered when she bit into the Snickers on a stick, finding she had to angle her head a certain way to catch the chocolate goop.

"Mmmm, it's good," she said. "Hot, but good."

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