It’s wild, it’s wackier than ever, and it’s back for another year. Of course we’re talking about OC Fair food for the 2022 season.
This year at the fair, you’ll find some of the old (crazy) standards. (Think fried Oreos, bacon-wrapped fried pickles, and basically everything fried.) What’s new is a few even wackier things (Cap’n Crunch on … a chicken sandwich?!? Yes – Read on.)
The fair, which runs from now through August 14, like almost all county fairs, features outrageous foods. Each year the fair’s foodmasters try to outdo themselves with the next crazy concoction. And while we’re not advocating for any of these choices as health foods per se, we are going to call the whole OC Fair food experience fun. Which, by the way, is exactly what those chefs hope you get out of it.
“That’s the best part of the fair for me – people walking up to the booth and seeing their reactions,” Chicken Charlie, one of the fair’s most visible food purveyors told us.
Thanks to Melissa’s Produce, as well as Chicken Charlie and the Midway Gourmet, two of the leading fair food sellers, we were able to check out some of the newest fair foods for 2022.
Chicken Charlie’s Kool-Aid Chicken
Chicken Charlie, a.k.a. Charles Boghosian, has been selling OC Fair food for the past 37 years. He has three eponymous booths at the fair, and one of his great claims to fame is that he’s credited with inventing the fried Oreo.
Of course you can find fried Oreos at his stands (and fried Twinkies, and fried cookie dough – all $9.95). But this year, you’ll also find …a Kool-Aid chicken sandwich ($17.95, served with pickles and fries). Yes, it’s crispy fried chicken, marinated in bright red Kool-Aid. (And it’s tasty – like sweet fried chicken.)
What else does Charlie have up his sleeve? There’s a Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich ($13.95), which is a chicken sandwich with a Krispy Kreme donut for a bun. And if you want to take it up a notch, there’s the Krispy Kreme ice cream chicken sandwich ($15.95) – same thing but with a scoop of ice cream.
Next, looking at side dishes, we want to call your attention to the fried bacon-wrapped pickles ($12.95) – juicy and salty. And for a surprisingly light and crispy meatless choice, we like the fried avocado spears ($12.95), served with a tasty ranch dressing dip.
Some fun facts: Charlie has a total of 220 people working at his three booths at the fair. And for the three Southern California county fairs that he does each year, he goes through 90,000 pounds of chicken thighs; 200,000 pounds of rotisserie chickens, 3 semi truckloads of French fries and 4 semi truckloads of oil.
Biggy’s Cap’n Crunch Chicken
Next we met The Midway Gourmet, a.k.a. Dominic Palmieri, who has been called “a certified evil genius.” (That’s how you know where this is headed.) The Midway Gourmet has more than a dozen OC Fair food stands, including Biggy’s, Enzo’s Pizza, Corn Shack, Sweeties, Big Dogs, Fried A Fair, and Mustards.
“The best part of the fair is that there’s something for everyone,” Palmieri told us. “We are always trying to make something impactful that will ‘wow’ your taste buds.”
One of Palmieri’s most outlandish creations that’s new this year is the Cap’n Crunch chicken sandwich ($15.32). It’s fried chicken in an extra-thick and crispy batter, drizzled with raspberry-honey sauce, and garnished with Cap’n Crunch cereal. It’s perfect for sweet-salty lovers, with a strong emphasis on the “sweet.” (Don’t tell; we enjoyed the sandwich more without the cereal.)
Another new sandwich for this year is the Nashville Hot Chicken ($15.32), served with pickles and fries. And of course, you can get just about everything with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos at Biggy’s. You can choose from the Big Daddy Corn Dog ($16.37), Cheeto’s Turkey Leg ($22.51), Cheeto Burger ($17.40), Cheeto Chicken Sandwich ($17.40), Cheeto Curly Fry ($17.40), Hot Cheeto Fry ($14.39), Hot Cheese Tots ($14.39), or Hot Cheeto Cheese Pickles ($10.21). (Palmieri is the only fair vendor in the country with official licensing from Cheetos and Cap’n Crunch.)
Watermelon Like You’ve Never Seen It
On the sweeter side of OC Fair food, one of the items that seems to bring the most delight is the Watermelon Dole Whip Taco ($11.14) at the Dole Whip stand. It’s a carved out slice of watermelon, filled with pineapple Dole Whip (a frozen non-dairy dessert) and topped with tangy-spicy Tajin seasoning.
It’s similar to an item from last year, but they somehow found a way to make it bigger. (Palmieri had his staff make one so we could take photos, and then handed it to a family that happened to be passing by, to their surprise and delight.)
Deep Fried Butter (Yes, Really)
The OC Fair will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; and 11:00 a.m. to midnight on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. General admission is $12 general admission on Wednesdays and Thursdays; $14 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. (Admission is $7 for seniors aged 60+ and kids ages 6-12; and it’s free for kids ages 5 and younger.) Parking is $10 per car.
Blogger disclosure: We attended the OC Fair through a media visit; we did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are our own.