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Everything We Ate At The Big E!

The Eastern States Exposition, better known as The Big E, is the official state fair for all of New England. Located in Springfield, MA for three weeks in September, it’s an epic smorgasbord of food, rides, merchandise, cattle, and people-watching…

Now, all our Bostonian readers are currently reading this and scratching their heads, saying, “How does New England have a state fair that I have never heard of? I thought those mammoth state fairs were all in the Midwest.”

Believe it, Boston! Just because nobody who lives east of Worcester has ever heard of this annual event, that doesn’t mean that it is imaginary. It’s all too real!

Since state fairs are well known as hotbeds of unhealthy cuisine, Rumors on the Internets dispatched a team of fearless experts in the field of crap-cuisine (aka a posse of fatties) to taste-test everything The Big E had to offer.

This is their report.

The food at the Big E encompasses everything you’d expect from a state fair spanning all six New England states — it includes both regional favorites and the latest in vile fried-dough experimentation.

We tested two dozen items on offer and grouped them into five subcategories based on a proprietary formula (The Big E-Meter) that takes into account yumminess, audacity, creativity, aesthetics, and how badly we needed to lie down and/or purge after consuming them.

The five subgroupings are Highly Scrumptious, Decently Delicious, Solidly Edible, Moderately Gross, and Thoroughly Disgusting.

Highly Scrumptious

These foods were noted for not only their tastiness, but for their uniqueness and the creativity involved in their creation. Each one involved the frying process to some extent, and all packed a saturated-fattening wallop!

The #1 ranked food on The Big E-Meter was one that came as a total surprise to our taste testers. We had not expected to enjoy The Craz-E Burger, but there was no way we could show our faces at the ROTI offices after turning down a bacon cheeseburger on a glazed donut bun.

Behold!

Here’s what you would NOT expect from looking at this concoction, or even just hearing about it: It is really, really good. We quickly polished one off and ordered another. The mix of tasty donut, greasy cheeseburger, and salty bacon is incredible!

Other notable foods in this category:

Fried Snickers Bars.  Gooey goodness encased in a battery fried crust. If you don’t like this, you must be a Communist.

Millennium Chips. A whole potato cut in a spiral, resulting in an incredible cross between potato chips and french fries. The Dippin’ Dots of potato products: it’s futuristically good.

Rhode Island Clam Fritters. Only available on the grounds of the Rhode Island House. Chewy, salty, and delightful. These were gobbled in no time.

Fried Oreos. Not only were these an outstanding treat that combined the best of fried food fattiness with one of the most delicious mass-market cookies, just check out this incredible signage!

Decently Delicious

These foods were unique creations that satisfied both curiosity and appetite. While they didn’t match the items in the previous category for sheer audacity, we wouldn’t hesitate before ordering up any of them again if we had the opportunity…

Big E Cheese from the Vermont House. Specially created for the fair by Cabot and its corporate master, Agri-Mark. This cheese isn’t anything that would delight stinky-cheese snobs, but it’s a fine specimen of Vermont cheddar that pleases any true American palate.

Frozen Apple Cider. The perfect solution for the fair-goer who is excited for the coming autumn yet still wants to enjoy the waning days of summer.

Maine Lobster Roll. Pretty much your standard lob-roll, but appealingly cheap within the confines of the Maine House. Its rating in the satisfaction-per-dollar statistic was off the charts.

Maple Cotton Candy from the Vermont House. Hand-rolled onto a paper cone by a 100% authentic Vermont hippie! The Vermont House is by far the best of the establishments on the Avenue of States: it’s all about cheese, maple products and personal liberties.

The prize of this category was another Big E exclusive, the Hot Diggit-E Dog. “Infused” with cheese and liberally draped with jalapenos, this packed an esophagus-melting punch…

Solidly Edible

Nothing special, nothing creative…just perennial favorites that rarely fail to please.

A Mediocre Pulled Pork Sandwich. This contained one piece of cartilage, which kicked off a debate about whether tough, inedible tissue found in meat is called “gristle” or “grizzle.” Note to my fellow team members: it’s gristle. “Grizzle” is pretty funny, though. Let’s spread that one; since English is a living tongue, you could eventually be right…

Frozen Lemonade. Your basic fro-lem.

Baked Potato With Everything. Marketed as “Maine Baked Potato” but who does Maine think they’re kidding? It’s just a potato. Still, load a starchy treat up with sour cream, bac-o-bits and cheese and I’m in.

London Broil Sandwich. “Just OK,” said the team member who devoured this creation.

Vanilla and Chocolate Milkshakes from the dairy stand near the farm animal exhibition pavilion. As this is New England we’re talking about, a milkshake is not to be confused with a “frappe.” EVER!

Moderately Gross

These foods would easily have been the nastiest thing any of us had eaten in months, if it wasn’t for the truly vile items in the final category. While they weren’t exactly stomach-turning, I would not recommend that anyone eat these things if there is an alternative available.

Sad Soft Pretzel. One of our team members couldn’t handle any more fat-laden treats and retreated to a pretzel stand to purchase a soft pretzel with mustard and no salt. Predictably, this was a wimpy-flavored food product that offered little in the yum department. A cafeteria lady would turn up her nose at this offering.

Fried Twinkie. This sounded really good in theory, but ended up just being a moist, soggy cake on a stick. The creamy center completely evaporates and soaks into the yellow cake, but it isn’t a weapon of mass tastiness, merely a big disappointment.

Super-Eggy Finnish Pancakes. Eyebrows were raised when one of the team members took the plunge on the Finnish Pancakes, and our skepticism was apparently well-founded, because he pronounced them “really, really eggy.”

Fried Butter. One of the most notorious items on sale at The Big E. A debate raged over whether fried butter should have been classed moderately gross or thoroughly disgusting, but I don’t think it merits being in the bottom category, and the highly scientific Big E-Meter agrees.

Because the butter ball melts during the frying process, this is basically buttery fried dough. Nothing wrong with that; just don’t eat it in one giant gulp, unless you want a mouthful of hot, melted butter!

Thoroughly Disgusting

These final four items were offensive on so many levels — not only crimes against taste buds, but aesthetically appalling as well. These food products should not be sold to humans.

Each is depicted as a warning to others not to experience what we have gone through…

Fried Cheesecake

In theory, this COULD have been good — blending cold, creamy c-cake with a warm, crispy, fried crust, and topped off with whipped cream, choco and fruity sauce. Instead, it quickly congealed into a melange of nasty flavors at a queasy room temperature. I can’t think about this any more without getting ill. Let’s move on.

Fried Shepherd’s Pie

SO nasty. One team member ate this basically solo because everyone else was too appalled to touch it. Cafeteria-grade meat encased in prison-grade mashed potato and fried to a crisp, then doused in gravy that undoubtedly came from a powdered mix. Even the bitterest housewife would have more mercy than to serve this to Casey Anthony as a last meal.

Fried Kool-Aid

These vile concoctions resemble the hearts of young mammals. Perhaps human children? Formed by soaking dough in Kool-Aid and then frying it, they came out with a stomach-churning molten center. The funny thing is that they weren’t really that gross-tasting, but the entire aesthetic experience surrounding this item was enough to plunge its Big E-Meter rating into the toilet.

Fried Jellybeans

The nastiest food product sold at The Big E, hands down. I have a picture of the fried jellybeans fully intact, but I think this image does it better justice because it’s evidence of how little of this we were able to consume. None of us ate more than a nibble, and many spit it out. Whoever came up with the concept of shoving jellybeans into fried dough should be tried in the Hague for crimes against humanity.

This concludes our report from The Big E. Hopefully you learned a lot about what flavors you’ve been missing out on, and what flavors you were totally lucky to avoid.

The fair is over for the year, but we wholeheartedly encourage you to check it out in 2012…

Just don’t try to cut us in the Craz-E Burger line, unless you want to have your heart cut out and sold to the Fried Kool-Aid stand!

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About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

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