Big-name politicians are a familiar sight at the Iowa State Fair — this year, President Obama bought people beers and Paul Ryan was heckled; last year, Sarah Palin and the Republican primary pack made a scene — but the true stars are the many foods, which are put on sticks.
This year, according to Jane Fritsch in The New York Times and the State Fair website, 57 foods on-a-stick are offered, including four new options which include the disappointingly healthy "Fruit (with yogurt dipping sauce)" and — in our opinion — more appropriate "Double Bacon Corn Dog (a hot dog wrapped in bacon, deep fried, dipped in bacon bit enriched batter and deep fried again to golden perfection)."
So what is it about food on-a-stick that works so well at the fair. Well, a fair spokeswoman Lori Chappell told The Hawk Eye it has to do with the active lifestyles of State Fair goers, "Food-on-a-stick is popular because it's mobile, and people want to be on the go."
For another, more plausible reason, Fritsch spoke to Larry Frye, a veteran hawker of carnival snacks and the mind behind "fried butter" on-a-stick, who claims that people seem willing to buy anything if you put a stick in it. "The fascination with food on a stick is difficult to explain," Fritsch writes, "but it usually means a 30 to 40 percent increase in sales, Mr. Fyfe said."
And fair-goers don't necessarily need to forgo health to eat on the move. The State Fair notes the gluten-free options (pork chop on-a-stick, anyone?) and if you're really feeling like a killjoy you can get a salad on-a-stick. But that's just as depressing as it is structurally imperfect.