From deep-fried oreos to Wisconsin cheese, several of North Carolina’s residents have an extravagant menu this week.
Whether they are there to win a stuffed animal for their significant other or to experience a rush from the rides, people from all over the region have gathered this week in Raleigh for the annual North Carolina State Fair. With stations everywhere you look, it’s awfully hard to pass up the opportunity to indulge in all the different types of fried foods offered at your fingertips.
But it’s not just fried foods being offered — there are also other things such as taffy and candy apples. The question we are left with, however, is where does this random food network come from?
With candy apples and cotton candy filling the windows of the food trailer, Raymond Chico leaned through the window asking, “How may I help you?”
Originally from Michigan, Raymond has been involved with serving food at fairs nationwide since he was 16. Once his family friend asked if he would be interested, Raymond started his life journey of serving people across the nation at fairs.
Although he sells sweets, Raymond craves more of the salty fair foods. He said his favorite type of food is the “steak, potatoes and onion dish” originated in Indiana.
Another fan favorite are the giant fair "elephant ears." When asked what the recipe was, Cody Willis’ lips were sealed. Cody has been passed down the family business and has been thriving through the art of “freezing and deep frying” the food for years.
Starting out as a change counter, Cody has been working for her grandfather’s legacy since she was six years old. Forty years later, she holds the secret recipe close to her heart. When asked what her favorite thing about working at the fair was, Willis said “seeing so many different faces and talking to so many different kinds of people.”
If you’re looking for something a little lighter than a funnel cake with drizzled chocolate and powdered sugar, maybe the freshly made taffy, falling from a machine before your eyes, will catch your cravings.
Established in 1972, Normant’s Salt Water Taffy has thrived among the fair scene nationwide as well. They have traveled from Philadelphia to New York and down to North Carolina, making several stops along the way. Although she is not directly related to the family owning the business, Bea McGee has been involved in the business for the past three years at the North Carolina State Fair.
Bea has established a strong connection with the family through working with them each year. She says her favorite flavor of taffey is peppermint.
“Everyone at the fair just loves it,” Bea said.
Because her husband works for the fair each year, she decided to see if anyone was hiring, which led her to assume the position with Normant's, and she has been involved ever since.
While presenting a wide variety of creative and traditional aspects of the American food culture, the fair also brings together many different types of people distributing or eating this food, which is why it has become such a popular event in our nation.