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Big Tex Contenders At The State Fair: Bacon Bombs, Deep Fried Ranch, Corn Dog Ale

M&M's, you’ve got a date with the deep fryer! Pickles, you’re gettin’ fried! Lobster: fry it, baby!

Those are just a few of the new items in the running for the State Fair of Texas’ annual food competition: the Big Tex Choice Awards.

Technically, you don’t have to fry food to enter, but there’s a long, rich tradition of competitors experimenting in their kitchens, trying to fry anything and seeing if it sticks – and if it’s worth serving.

Devour some Fried Kool-Aid Pickles and wash ‘em down with some Kool-Aid Pickle-Dilly Sangria. They're among the 31 semifinalists announced Tuesday.

They will compete for one of three crowns: the best tasting item that’s sweet; the best tasting item that’s savory; and the most creative.

Fair officials say 30 fair concessionaires entered 49 items. Competitors must have at least one year of experience at the fair.

“With food as a popular attraction of the fair each year, these contenders are more than just successful food aficionados,” the fair declares. “They have proven themselves to be authentic representations of the dedication and passion brought each year to the Big Tex Choice Awards.”

More judging takes place over the next few weeks. The list will be narrowed down to 10 by mid-August.

The 14th annual Big Tex Choice Awards takes place Aug. 26 at Fair Park.

The fair starts Sept. 28.

Drum roll, please...

And here are the semifinalists (We don’t have menu descriptions or photos yet.)

  • Corn Dog Ale
  • Deep Fried Bodacious Bacon Bombs
  • Deep Fried Chicken Tetrazzini Parmesana
  • Deep Fried Lobster Pops
  • Deep Fried Ranch
  • Deep Fried Shepherd's Pie
  • Deep Fried Skillet Potato Melt in a Boat
  • Fried Cup of Corn "Elotes"
  • Fried Kool-Aid Pickles
  • Hoppin' John Cake with Jackpot Sauce
  • King Crispy Coconut Crab Sliders
  • Pico Frito (Deep Fried Pico de Gallo)
  • Southern Fried Chicken Nachos
  • Texas Fried Hill Country
  • Texas Twang-kie
  • Bacon Brittle
  • Cherish Ebert Champagne
  • Cotton Candy Taco
  • Deep Fried M&M's
  • Deep Fried Raspberry Brie-ret
  • Frosty's Frozen Hot Chocolate
  • Fruity Dessert Nachos
  • Kool-Aid Pickle-Dilly Sangria
  • Orange Julia's Beermosa
  • Orange You Glad We Fried It?!
  • State Fair Fun-L Cake Ice Cream
  • Supra Stuffed Mini Sopapillas
  • Sweet Bakin' Bacon
  • Sweet Crispy Rice (Arroz con Leche)
  • Texas Thai Delight
  • The Roll Tide

Learn more here.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.