There’s always something special to see and do in Michigan! Summers (and fall) are especially jam-packed with carnivals, fairs, and festivals of all kinds. For me and many others, the food is always the best part of these special events. In fact, food truck fairs and rallies have even become quite popular – especially in the past few years, it seems.
Other fun summer events include air shows and hot air balloon rides, yard sale trails, farmers’ markets, mud bogs, classic car shows and cruises, outdoor concerts, fireworks displays, and so on. But the best events are all the carnivals, fairs, and festivals found throughout this beautiful state. Michigan is rich in county fairs – as many as 86, in all.
Marshall, Michigan’s Calhoun County Fair, is the oldest, continuous running, county fair in the state – except for 2020, of course. The Calhoun County Fair was first held in 1839. Marshall is also famous for being home to the world famous [Win] Schuler’s restaurant, since 1909.
Parade.com featured a wonderfully informative article, along with 29 recipes, to ‘…Recreate the Best State Fair Food at Home…’ that was written by Megan Porta (August 25, 2021). She listed “10 of the most popular state fair foods…”, as follows:
- Deep Fried Oreos
- Fried Chicken in a Waffle Cone
- Deep Fried Snickers
- Pizza Cone
- Cannoli Dessert Nachos
- Deep Fried PB&J
- Corn in a Cup
- Turkey Legs
- Deep Fried Cheese Curds
- Cookie Fries
I’ve seen many of these favorite fair foods featured on Noah Cappe’s hit show, Carnival Eats. I love that show – it always makes me want to go to a carnival or fair. I call it “Fair Food Fever”. Incidentally, Megan’s article also offers 29 recipes for imitating fair foods at home!
Here’s a bonus for you… Mom’s copycat recipe for “Batter-Fried Cheese Balls” like Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH), as seen in her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 134). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].
Carnival and fair foods are often equated with junk foods. Critics of the junk food and fast food industries thought that Mom’s type of copycat cookery was a fad that wouldn’t last long. But it was only the beginning of a revolutionary movement in the food industry – one that Mom called “Taking The Junk Out Of Junk Food” and “Eating Out At Home”!
In contrast to those critics who condemned “junk food” as being bad for us, Mom’s definition for real “junk food” was simply “poorly prepared food”. People know what they want and they like the so-called “junk” food that’s purportedly so bad for them.
However, along with the “everything in moderation” theory, Mom found a way to – forgive the pun – “have her cake and eat it too”, by “taking the junk out of junk food” through making copycat versions at home, where she controlled the ingredients.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
The Second Helping Of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 1)
DE-BUNKING THE JUNK
WHAT IS THE TRUTH ABOUT JUNK FOODS? Food experts have been referring to many snack foods and fast foods as ‘junk’, in an attempt to disqualify their value when compared to foods containing high amounts of protein and vitamins.
No one has confirmed a definition of the expression ‘junk food’, yet the public has been conditioned to accept any snack food, sweets, candies, confections, baked goods, and many beverages as junk food when, in reality, these are not without nutritional value.
All by itself, a raw carrot could hardly support the human system substantially, neither could a cup of yogurt. Yet, a candy bar or a small piece of cake or a hamburger on a bun is considered by some of the food industry’s most prestigious experts as having little or no food value in our daily diets.
The junk food paradox has caused school systems and other public institutions to ban the sale of any foods we would consider snack items, making it illegal…in the state of Michigan and some others if such items are sold to children through vending machines on the premises.
This is infuriating to the good cooks and the more intelligent food chemists among us who know that junk food is actually any food which is poorly prepared. All food has nutritional value. Some just seem to have more than others but, in the final analysis, it is purely personal taste which will determine the popularity of one food over another.
The fast food industry has been the most successful of any phase in the business. Their success depending largely on the fact that their recipes are all closely guarded secrets! I say, ‘Baloney!’
THERE REALLY ARE VERY FEW RECIPE SECRETS.
In many of Mom’s self-published cookbooks and summertime newsletters, she imitated some fair food favorites, herself – “Carnival Cotton Candy”, “…Circus Elephant Ears”, “Candy Apples” like Cedar Point (OH), and “Fudge” like Disneyland (CA) just to name a few.
Going to Cedar Point, in Sandusky (OH), was always one of the highlights of my summers, when I was young. It was full of unforgettable family fun; going on all the rides and eating ridiculous amounts of junk food. Sometimes we’d also spend the night at The Breakers hotel, next door, right on the beach of Lake Erie.
KRCGTV.com features ‘Beyond the Trivia – State Fairs’, by Dick Preston (July 29, 2021); another great informative article about state fairs, as well as county fairs. Did you know there are only two states in the U.S. that don’t sponsor a state fair? Some states have more than one. Some states also have many county fairs and others have none at all.
Michigan has two State Fairs (one in the “mitten” and one in the U.P.). Detroit’s started in 1849 and ran until 2009, when the governor, at that time, halted funding for it, due to state budgeting issues. The very first lower Michigan State Fair was originally held in Ann Arbor in 1839 but it was so poorly attended that it wasn’t continued.
However, a decade later, it was successfully revived in Detroit. The official State Fair Grounds were established in 1905, on Woodward Avenue. By 1966, attendance of the Michigan State Fair peaked at about 1.2 million attendees. Unfortunately, by 2009, the fair’s attendance had declined more than 80%, to about 217,000 visitors.
Nevertheless, in 2012, the State Fair was revived, once again, as well as relocated, again; moving from Detroit to Novi’s Suburban Collection Showplace, where it’s been ever since. The U.P. State Fair has been held in Escanaba since 1928. It’s the oldest state fair in Michigan.
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
The Second Helping Of Secret Recipes, Revised (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1978, 4th Printing; p. 1)
DEAR JUNK FOOD JUNKIE, YOUR FIX HAS ARRIVED
BEING A HOPELESSLY INCURABLE junk food addict has its drawbacks in a world that today cries out for a better balanced diet.
When famous recording star, Larry Groce, first coined the title ‘Junk Food Junkie’ in his best-selling album of the same name, those of us who had been hooked on hamburgers, Hostess Twinkies, haute cuisine of the other snack foods, could breathe a sigh of relief – somebody understood. But nobody seemed to be doing anything about it…
Of course, the cookbooks published weren’t doing anything to help us cure the chronic case of junk food addiction because they were feeling the pressures of the need for nutritional education, cancelling out the credibility of snack foods as having any value at all.
Well, my friends, only half of the story was being told and so I began the publication of recipes for fast food imitations you could prepare at home and enjoy as if you were eating out.
It seems that there’s always something to celebrate, every day of every year – even if it’s not an “official” holiday. And almost everything that is celebrated or observed, usually involves food. Many of us find happiness in food. Food is comforting. Food is rejoicing. Food is fun. Food is love!
Nothing attracts and gathers people together more than food. These days, almost every holiday, special event, and the like are, in some fashion, marketed in the food industry!
‘Any reason to celebrate, is a reason to celebrate with food!’ – Laura Emerich (Feb. 24, 2020)
That should be somebody’s slogan – and remember, I coined it, here, first!
I remember when my family and I first moved to St. Clair from Algonac – one of our new neighbors came over with food for our dinner that evening so Mom didn’t have to worry about doing that amidst all the unpacking. That made such a wonderful, lasting impression on us.
Every summer that I can remember, while growing up in Michigan, there was usually a couple of family trips and some special one-day-events like a festival, the beach, a park picnic, and backyard barbeque – food was always in the mix. Our summers were filled with a lot of fun memories and fun food.
This Saturday we’ll be halfway through 2023, as July begins. One of July’s fabulous month-long celebrations is National Picnic Month, about which I recently wrote in my blog post, Summer Road Trips And Picnics. Why not imitate your favorite, fun, fair foods to take on your next road trip picnic?
In honor of June, being National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, and TODAY, being National Coconut Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for a delicious dessert, called “Dayton Summer Fruit Pudding”; as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 53).
The month of June observes, among other things… National Candy Month, National Camping Month, National Caribbean American Month, National Country Cooking Month, National Dairy Month, National Great Outdoors Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, National Soul Food Month, National Rose Month, and National Turkey Lovers Month!
Saturday begins the month of July, which observes, among other things… World Watercolor Month, National Baked Bean Month, National Culinary Arts Month, National Grilling Month, National Horseradish Month, National Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream Month, Independent Retailer Month, National Blueberry Month, and National Peach Month!
July 1st is also… National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day, National Gingersnap Day, National Postal Worker Day and National U.S. Postage Stamp Day! Plus, as the first Saturday in July (for 2023), it’s Hop-a-Park Day and National Play Outside Day (which is the 1st Saturday of EVERY month)!
Sunday, July 2nd, is… National Anisette Day!
…26 down and 26 to go!