This is a reading comprehension exercise for children. It was written by Susan Fineman, a reading specialist in the New Haven, Conn., school district.

LITTLE ROCK -- In the South, where some joke that the four basic food groups are barbecued, baked, broiled or fried, state fairs are filled with booths that sell everything from corn on a stick to turkey legs.

For dessert, an odd new treat has emerged: fried Twinkies.

Phil Dickson of Hot Springs has sold about 1,000 of the batter-dipped, deep-fried snacks, topped with powdered sugar, since the Arkansas State Fair opened recently.

"It's amazing to me," Dickson said. "The response has just been tremendous."

The Twinkies, which, before frying, have 160 calories and five grams of fat apiece, are impaled on sticks and frozen until firm, then dipped into a batter similar to that used for fried fish.

Deep frying and the powdered-sugar coating add still more calories and fat, of course.

"The inside creamy part stays cool, while the outside is warm," said Rhonda Yates, a postal worker spending her vacation helping Dickson with the Twinkie booth.

Fairs in Arizona, California and Kansas also are expected to roll out fried Twinkies this fall.

Suzanne Hackett, the general manager of an English restaurant in New York City called the ChipShop, said the fried Twinkie was born in her eatery out of boredom.

"We had a very slow night in the restaurant so we decided to buy a bunch of junk food and deep fry it," Hackett said. "And the Twinkies just tasted so good."

Frances Price, a clinical nutritionist with Arkansas Children's Hospital, said that parents should be cautious about their children's diet but that eating treats is just part of being a kid.

"There is room in the diet for some treats. You can't exclude it completely," Price said. "And at least fair food is part of a family activity, where families walk up and down the midway."

Joel Counts, a tourist from the Los Angeles area who tried his first fried Twinkie, said it was excellent.

"It tastes like a Twinkie, but it has a little extra flavor because of the frying," Counts said. "And the powdered sugar just tops it off."