State Fair 2018 editorial series
Fried Foods

Cotton candy taco wins at 2018 State Fair of Texas Big Tex Choice Awards

Cotton candy taco wins 2018 State Fair of Texas Big Tex Choice Awards

State Fair of Texas, cotton candy taco
Cotton candy taco for the win. Photo courtesy of State Fair of Texas

A sweet taco made from a waffle and filled with puffy cotton candy took the prize for Most Creative confection at the 2018 State Fair of Texas Big Tex Choice Awards, the annual contest celebrating fried foods.

The Big Tex Awards, aka the "fried food awards," is the splashy annual event in which concessionaires submit creations they'll serve at the fair that year. The contest has become one of the biggest publicity generators for the State Fair.

There were three winners in all:

  • "Most Creative" went to the Cotton Candy Taco.
  • "Best Tasting Savory" went to Fernie’s Hoppin’ John Cake with Jackpot Sauce.
  • "Best Tasting Sweet" went to Arroz Con Leche.

Cotton Candy Taco was a sweet s'more creation with a graham cracker waffle cone batter pressed into a crunchy taco shell shape. The inside of the shell was coated with marshmallow glaze, then stuffed with chocolate, toasted marshmallow, and cane sugar cotton candy. It was topped with chocolate cookie crumbles and two chocolate cream-covered biscuit sticks with marshmallows.

Fernie’s Hoppin’ John Cake with Jackpot Sauce had black-eyed peas, white rice, spicy smoked sausage, green onions, bread crumbs, and eggbeaters, formed into a cake. The cake was deep fried and topped with black-eyed pea relish and pickled okra.

Arroz con leche was a cinnamon-spiced rice ball battered, coated in puffed rice cereal, and fried. They served it with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

The winners were chosen at an event on August 26 at the historic Tower Building at Fair Park. They were chosen by a panel of judges that included restaurateur Uno Immanivong; Alvaro Luque, president & CEO at Avocados From Mexico; K104 FM morning show host DeDe McGuire; Doug Pickering, pitmaster at Ferris Wheeler’s BBQ; and D’Andra Simmons of The Real Housewives of Dallas.

Returning as emcee was local radio host Michelle Rodriguez, of New Country 96.3 KSCS.

Seven other contenders included:

Deep Fried Shepherd's Pie, with cheesy mashed potato balls stuffed with a shepherd's pie filling made of ground beef, mixed vegetables, and beef gravy, and fried.

Deep Fried Skillet Potato Melt in a Boat, a so-called tater tot on steroids with skillet potatoes and diced breakfast sausage patties packed around a mini Babybel cheese loaf, rolled in flour and fried, then served in potato skins and topped with cheddar and bacon bites.

Texas Fried Hill Country, a sandwich of sorts with fried mozzarella and basil between two green tomato slices, fried and served on field greens.

Texas Twang-kie, like a savory Twinkie with cornbread cake hollowed out and filled with Tex-Mex grilled chicken white bean chili, served with cornbread fries.

Fernie’s Orange You Glad We Fried It?!, a fried turnover filled with chiffon orange cake, whipped cream, and orange preserves, blended to form a custard-like filling.

State Fair Fun-L Cake Ice Cream, aka funnel cake ice cream with funnel cake pieces.

Sweet Bakin’ Bacon, another Twinkie creation with a cream-filled sponge cake wrapped in bacon, dipped in a funnel cake batter, and fried.