DES MOINES, Iowa – Next to the crowning of the queen and the weighing of the biggest boar, it may be the biggest honor bestowed at the Iowa State Fair each year: the naming of the Best New Food being served on the fairgrounds.
Three finalists were up for the honor: Grinder Ball from The Bacon Box, Iowa Twinkie from Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ & Brew, and Deep-Fried Bacon Brisket Mac-n-Cheese Grilled Cheese from What’s Your Cheez.
Only one can win and it’s up to fairgoers and this year’s winner is … the Deep-Fried Bacon Brisket Mac-n-Cheese Grilled Cheese!
We cruised the fairgrounds to survey fairgoers on each of the finalists before the winner was announced. You can’t eat all day if you don’t start in the morning. So why not have a deep-fried bacon brisket mac-n-cheese grilled cheese for breakfast?
“Honestly, I think it’s one of the best sandwiches that I have ever had,” Joseph Finch, one of the chefs for What’s Your Cheez and The Rib Shack, said. “I mean you get cheese, brisket, bacon, you have the raspberry chipotle dipping sauce. So many flavors come together and it’s just wonderful and out of this world.”
One fairgoer admits: “So far, I mean out of the top three I’ve had two. This one is my favorite so far.”
But not so fast.
“I think the Iowa Twinkie is a little bit better,” another said.
Don’t let the name fool you.
“We call it a Twinkie but it’s just a stuffed jalapeno,” Paul Babberl, pitmaster at Whatcha Smokin’, said. “It’s pretty much a jalapeno popper but we load it full of pulled pork, cream cheese, ranch, sweet corn, drizzle our sweet and sticky barbeque, and more ranch.”
One fairgoer claims: “It’s gonna be hard to beat.”
But that doesn’t mean he “Grinder Ball” from Bacon Box won’t try.
“There’s cheese in the middle, wrapped in bacon, Italian sausage,” a fairgoer said as he eats. “It’s fantastic.”
A tasty competition that truly comes down to the people’s choice.
“Ya know fingers crossed,” Dominic Iannarelli, Bacon Box owner, said. “That would fulfill one of my childhood dreams of having number one fair food. So yeah, I think we have a pretty good shot at it.”
In total, there are 64 new foods to try this year at the Iowa State Fair.