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It’s hard to argue with the judges’  choice of Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack as “best tasting” among the eight finalists for this 2011 State Fair of Texas Big Tex Choice Awards, and it’s hard to argue with Fried Bubblegum being selected as the “most creative.”

But having had a chance to taste all eight of the finalists following the Labor Day judging competition, I have a few observations for those of you who can’t afford — either monetarily or nutritionally — to go around the world this year and try all eight of the fried food newcomers, along with a few of your annual favorites, too.

Fried Bubblegum is really a marshmallow dipped in batter, drizzled with sauce and topped with a few tiny Chiclet pieces of gum. It’s a creative name, and the appearance is awfully pink in terms of coloration. I tried a piece, and if you remember Bazooka Joe bubble gum, you’ll know exactly what this dish tastes like through and through. Personally, it’s not my favorite, but I suspect the name alone will make the lines long at the Fair.

The Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack is simply a chicken strip speared with a stick, soaked in spicy sauce, coated with batter and then breaded again and served with maple syrup. You don’t need the syrup to enjoy this one — it’s like eating a spicy chicken finger.

Fried Butter creator Abel Gonzalez came up with Deep Fried Pineapple Upside Down Cake this year, and it was a great, light (if you can say that about anything fried) dessert worth a few tickets. But the allure of Fried Bubblegum blew this one away, I’m afraid.

Deep Fried Texas Salsa was great — the mix of chips and salsa ingredients, rolled into a ball, fried and then served with queso was great. You won’t be sorry about spending some tickets on this one.

El Bananarita is exactly what is sounds like — a banana rolled in a flour tortilla and coated with sugary stuff. It’s good and probably, thanks to the banana, kind of good for you.

Fried Autumn Pie tasted like pumpkin pie in lightly fried dough to me. I like pumpkin pie and whipped cream, and this one reminded me of both.

The Walking Taco is simply a snack-sized bag of Doritos covered with taco ingredients. This is the one for Doritos fans.

Finally, Hans’ Kraut Ball sounded the most creepy — pork sausage mixed with sauerkraut and mustard, covered with breadcrumbs and fried. But honestly, it was the biggest surprise in terms of taste, since the generally sour kraut taste was muted by the mustard and breadcrumbs. My wife says she hates kraut, but she liked this one.

My tip: Try the Kraut Ball and the Bubblegum, if you only have enough tickets or stomach for two, and you’ll have plenty of remember and talk about.

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