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Fair Boasts Heart-Stopping Draw

Food: Visitors are both repelled and strangely attracted by deep-fried Snickers bars.

September 14, 2002|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Some fairgoers call cotton candy, corndogs and beer a balanced meal. But this year, there's a new high, or low, in fair food with the debut Friday of a battered, deep-fried Snickers bar topped with powdered sugar. Needless to say, it's served on a stick.

Some might be repelled--nutritionists and cardiologists, for example--but not 25-year-old Shelley Brough, who made a pilgrimage to the Los Angeles County Fair's opening day in Pomona.

"I was curious more than anything," she said. "I saw the sign, and I just couldn't imagine what a deep-fried Snickers bar tasted like." The Riverside resident and her friend, Denise Serna, 25, paid $3 each and in turn they got a regular-sized Snickers bar that had been dipped in sweet batter and fried for less than a minute in soybean oil heated to about 375 degrees.

"Who thought of this?" asked Serna, as she waited for the Mother of All Junk Food to cool down.

Frying candy bars started more than a decade ago in a chip shop in Scotland, according to the Herald of Glasgow, and, in the United Kingdom, the confection of choice is the Mars bar.

"I've had 4,000 people ask me where to get them," said Tammy Lawler, who was working at the information booth.

For the next two weeks, she will be directing the venturesome to the two Texas Donuts booths serving the fried bars.

One is near the Blue Gate, a block away from the Healthy Lifestyles building, and the other is located near the Yellow Gate.

Pressed to describe the unusual item, people used terms like "gooey" and "too hot" and "really, really sweet."

One taster preferred the term "rich."

"I'm not sure what to think of it," said Brough, a couple of bites in. "It tastes good, but it doesn't seem quite right."

Westwood resident Vicky Ross walked up to the counter with a fair food crib sheet, and the first underlined phrase was "deep-fried Snickers bar."

Confessing to a thing for frozen Snickers bars and possession of a recipe for Snickers pie, Ross, 42, was delighted with the new variation on a favorite food.

"It's delicious," she said. "It's not greasy ... it's very sweet

Texas Donuts owners Teresa Brander and her husband, Rich, said they first sold fried Snickers at this year's Orange County Fair. They still sell more of their trademark Texas-sized doughnuts, but the fried Snickers draws the curious in droves, she said.

She estimated they grossed about $3,000 on each weekend day during the Orange County Fair, which is 15% to 20% more sales than in the pre-Snickers era.

As to the recent history of this weird foodstuff, Brander said she heard that the bars were wildly popular when introduced at last year's Minnesota State Fair, "and I hear they do them in Australia as well."

Teresa Brander couldn't put her finger on the exact number of calories a fried Snickers has, but the bar has 280 calories, 130 of them from fat.

She didn't think the hot oil added more than 50 calories. And the batter is made with sugar and flour but no fat, she said.

Personally, Brander said, she doesn't eat fried foods. She likes salads.

But Shelley Brough clearly thought the new fair food was a winner. After a couple more bites, a big grin appeared on her face.

"You know, she said, "this would be really good with ice cream."

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Fair Hours

Los Angeles County Fair, Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona. Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to midnight; Sundays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Through Sept. 29. Admission, $4 to $35; children 5 and younger admitted free. Some events have additional admission charges of $12.50 to $50. (909) 623-3111. www.lacountyfair.com.

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