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Chenue Her ranks his favorite new Iowa State Fair foods for 2022

The "Good Morning Iowa" team tried 10 new foods to help choose which treats would compete for the 2022 Iowa State Fair People's Choice Best New Food award.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa State Fair is kicking off soon and, of course, the food is getting much-deserved attention. It’s constantly one of the reasons many Iowans enjoy the fair. 

This year, some of us from the "Good Morning Iowa" team got to judge 10 new fair foods. It’s my first year, so I’ll likely try more than these 10. But, since I was lucky enough to be one of the many judges, here are my favorites for 2022:

  1. Pork Picnic in a Cup, Iowa Pork Producers Association, $10

This is comfort in a cup! Think of a summer picnic of your favorite foods layered nicely in a cup, great for walking around the fair. The bottom is layered with baked beans and BBQ pulled pork, then topped with sweet, creamy coleslaw with a touch of BBQ sauce. The best part: the perfectly cooked piece of brown sugar pork belly on top. 

  1. Egg-O-Fuego, The Cluckin’ Coop, $8

A creative, hearty, Iowa spin to a classic egg sandwich. You get a classic fried egg, but then it’s only up from there. It’s loaded with pepper jack cheese, guacamole, a great spicy jalapeno relish and my favorite part… Iowa’s own Beeler’s chorizo. This has just enough of a spicy kick yet is still friendly for all. The brioche bun is a nice touch. Also a good price point for a hearty sandwich!

  1. Pork Belly Bao Buns, Saigonais Cuisine, $6

The texture of this bao bun was phenomenal. It was soft, slightly sweet and holds everything inside without getting messy. The braised pork belly is the star of the show, in my opinion. But, the supporting cast holds its own. The daikon, a mild and tangy radish, is an elegant touch and the cilantro adds flavor but isn’t overbearing. The first bite packed a lot of flavor. This is a great combination of sweet, fluffy and savory. 

  1. The Finisher, The Rib Shack, $10

Whew… where do I start? If you’re hungry, look no further. The Rib Shack really did not come to play when they cooked up The Finisher. It was named this because it’s a dare for fairgoers to…finish it. Let’s start from the bottom. It’s an extra large russet potato, topped with chopped brisket, smoked pulled pork, then add The Rib Shack’s famous Bacon Brisket Mack and Cheese. That’s not all. Top it off with a *generous* amount of BBQ sour cream and garlic rub butter. It’s a big, beautiful hodgepodge of fair foods on one plate. As much as I love the dish, I also love the price of it… running for only $10! That’s a whole lotta food for the price. It’s definitely enough to share with your friends. 

  1. Dawghouse Reuben Sandwich, Dawghouse Concessions/Pickledawgs, $10

I’m a sucker for a good reuben. This sandwich packs a more than generous amount of sliced pastrami paired with the Dawghouse Concessions’ signature reuben sauce, a mix of sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and cream cheese. It’s all stuffed into a brat-sized bun and paired with a pickle. That sauce compliments the pastrami perfectly. 

  1. Minty Moo Parfait, Dairy Barn, $9

Oh, don’t worry! I didn’t forget about dessert. The Minty Moo Parfait is perfect for a hot August day at the fair. The classic vanilla ice cream with a Thin Mint and the cookie crumbles is an instant hit with me. There’s also chocolate syrup to really boost the sweetness. If you have a sweet tooth like me, this is a must! Fun fact: this is the only place you’ll be able to get a Thin Mint at the Iowa State Fair.

  1. Chuckie’s Tenderloin Wrap, Chuckie’s, $11

You can’t come to the Iowa State Fair and not get pork tenderloin. Chuckie’s famous hand-breaded pork tenderloin comes wrapped in a soft tortilla with sweet coleslaw and smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce. The tenderloin is cooked to perfection with a nice crunch, although I’d imagine it may get less crunchy the longer the sauce soaks the pork. But, I wouldn’t know for sure. I ate it too fast! If you’re on the go at the fair, this is very easy to take around. After all, portability is important! 

  1. Puff Sundae, Bauder’s, $7

For what you’re getting and the size of this dessert, $7 is a steal. Bauder’s, an Iowa State Fair staple, comes through with their new “Puff Sundae”. It’s two scoops of fresh vanilla ice cream, graham cracker crumbs, marshmallows (A LOT OF MARSHMALLOWS), hot fudge and, my personal favorite touch, a vanilla wafer. I loved the warm, toasted, giant marshmallow on top of the fresh ice cream. This dessert has all the makings of what I remember enjoying as a treat growing up. I can see this being a big hit with kiddos at the fair.

  1. "OMG" Chicken Sandwich, Chicken City, $12

This sandwich is flavor overload. To some, that’s a great thing. To others, it may take some time to process. The "OMG" Chicken Sandwich is bringing the extreme of sweet and savory. You have a chicken breast lightly battered and covered in a sugar coated corn flakes fried to a golden brown, topped with bacon and syrup, then served between a sliced Krispy Kreme glazed donut. Whew! I’d recommend sharing this.

  1. Blue Ribbon Cobbler, Iowa Fruit & Vegetables Growers, $9.95

You can never have too much dessert at the fair! The Blue Ribbon Cobbler has a wonderful base consisting of a classic, made from scratch biscuit that’s so good I could almost eat just that. Then, it’s topped with all-natural blueberry preserves, hand-dipped ice cream, whipped cream and fresh blueberries. For the fruit lovers, this is a great balance of fruit and a sweet dessert. The biscuit is a must-try. 

After all of the judges tried the new foods, the scores ranked these the top three which are going to be up for a “People’s Choice” vote at the fair: 

  • "OMG" Chicken Sandwich
  • Pork Picnic in a Cup
  • The Finisher

Any thoughts on the new foods? Send us your thoughts. 

Connect with Chenue on FacebookTwitter and Instagram with any questions or comments on the list above and the food items. 

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