As thrilling as the ever-growing list of new State Fair foods is, we all know that the first bite inside the fairgrounds has to be an old favorite. Because our time with the fair is blissful but brief, each moment should be spent remembering why we fell in love with it in the first place. That means braving the elements, weaving through crowds and standing in line to greet these homegrown friends, our icons of the Minnesota State Fair.

Grilled peaches, Produce Exchange, Carnes/Underwood, $5-$7-$9. Freaking glorious. What better way to take advantage of peak peach season than to warm
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
Grilled peaches, Produce Exchange, Carnes/Underwood, $5-$7-$9. Freaking glorious. What better way to take advantage of peak peach season than to warm them on the grill? They’re served w/goat cheese/herbs (pictured), yogurt/pie crumble or just straight up (my favorite). Don’t miss. Photo by Rick Nelson New food at the Minnesota State Fair 2018

Grilled peaches from the Produce Exchange

Summer is peak peach season and these globe-sized beauties are filled with floral, sweet juices that dribble down your chin. Just a little time on the grill caramelizes the juices, rendering the flesh all the more supple. Dolloped with a little yogurt — or goat cheese and honey — this is a rare, fresh bite that eats like a decadent treat. Carnes Avenue and Underwood Street

Kylie Yu, 9, center, chowed down on sweet corn ears with her younger brothers, Michael, 5, left, and Charlie, 3, at the Minnesota State Fair Thursday.
Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune
Kylie Yu, 9, center, chowed down on sweet corn ears with her younger brothers, Michael, 5, left, and Charlie, 3, at the Minnesota State Fair Thursday. ] Aaron Lavinsky ¥ aaron.lavinsky@startribune.com Food photos for the Minnesota State Fair food review on Saturday. Photographed Thursday, August 27, 2015.

Roast corn

Driving down a Minnesota back road in August means pulling over to a farm stand hawking sweet corn. At the fair, those sweet kernels come to us thanks to Brad Ribar's corn stand, where the cobs are simply roasted and slathered in salty, sweet cream butter, which isn't even necessary but highly recommended. Dan Patch Avenue and Nelson Street

Kyndell Harkness/Star Tribune Corn dogs from a Pronto Pup stand.
KYNDELL HARKNESS, STAR TRIBUNE
Kyndell Harkness/Star Tribune Corn dogs from a Pronto Pup stand.

Pronto Pup

We know there are corn dog devotees out there (we see you, Poncho Dog), but the Pronto Pup, a Wisconsin-made sausage with savory coating containing a blend of corn, wheat and rice flours, is the true Minnesota original. The family behind the bright yellow stands throughout the fairgrounds claim theirs was the first kind of corn dog to be sold at the Minnesota State Fair, starting in 1947. Even more important, the "Wiener dun in a bun" introduced the practice of serving food on a stick. What's more iconic than that? Several locations

A bucket of piping hot cheese curds. ] JEFF WHEELER • jeff.wheeler@startribune.com The Minnesota State Fair presented what they called a Kickoff to
Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune
A bucket of piping hot cheese curds. ] JEFF WHEELER • jeff.wheeler@startribune.com The Minnesota State Fair presented what they called a Kickoff to Summer at the Fair, starting Thursday afternoon, May 27, 2021 on a portion of the state fairgrounds. Thousands of people indulged their pent up demand for pronto pups and cheese curds, with a side of live music. The event runs through Monday, Memorial Day.

Cheese curds from the Mouth Trap

When Minnesotans talk about cheese curds, these curds, around since the 1980s, are what come to mind. Light and fluffy batter is fried to a crackly crisp, revealing a super-stretchy cheese interior. There's always a line and it may seem long, but it moves at a surprising clip. Pay attention, grab that little boat and remember there is no reason to share. Food Building

Minnesotans do well in resisting excess — except at the State Fair.
Leila Navidi, Star Tribune
Minnesotans do well in resisting excess — except at the State Fair.

Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar

Are they the best chocolate chip cookies you'll ever have? Maybe not. But the fair's top-selling stand, year after year, has to be doing something right. Serving a mountain of warm cookies in a bucket would be it. Freeze the leftovers, if there are any, and warm them up for a Sweet Martha's fix long after the sun sets on the fair. Three locations

Egg coffee is made by mixing two cups of coffee grounds with one egg and stirring it all together, then poor the grounds into a boiling pot of water a
Brian Peterson, Star Tribune
Egg coffee is made by mixing two cups of coffee grounds with one egg and stirring it all together, then poor the grounds into a boiling pot of water and wala, Swedish Egg Coffee. Jim Zieba is the master coffee brewer a the Salem Lutheran Diner and holds the record for brewing 97 pots of Egg Coffee in one day at 40 cups per pot. Jim also says he clocks 6-8 miles per day just walking coffee from the kitchen to the front counter. Jim took over where his dad Ed left off. Ed Zieba was one of the original organizers of the Salem Dining Hall. ] Salem Lutheran Church has been running a Dining Hall at the MN State Fair for the past 69 years. At their peak in the 1930s and Ô40s, there were more than 50 church dining halls on the fairgrounds, now just two remain: the Hamline United Methodist Church in St. Paul, and the smaller Salem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis , it’s one of the true gems at the MN State Fair, with their walk up counter or screened in dining hall, they are famous for their Swedish Egg coffee and Swedish meatballs. BRIAN PETERSON ¥ brian.peterson@startribune.com Falcon Heights, MN 08/27/2018

Egg coffee from Salem Lutheran Church Dining Hall

Minnesota church ladies know what's up when they set a pot of coffee on. That coffee fuels community fellowship, comforts mourners and celebrates life's highlights. Know this: There is no egg in the coffee cup. Eggs are mixed into the grounds for an incredibly smooth, exquisitely simple cup of church basement coffee. North side of Randall Avenue

Que Viet’s famous eggrolls are coming to Grand Avenue
Mark Vancleave, Star Tribune
Que Viet’s famous eggrolls are coming to Grand Avenue

Giant Egg Roll from Que Viet

The massive egg rolls from this family-owned stand are a complete meal on a skewer and hit differently than the average wrapped-and-fried appetizer. The crispy wrapper is overflowing with pork and vegetable fillings, making it impossible to eat without losing just a little along the way. That's OK — there are plenty more. Cooper Street and Dan Patch Avenue

Walleye cakes at Giggles’ Campfire Grill Rick Nelson Photo
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
Walleye cakes at Giggles’ Campfire Grill Rick Nelson Photo

Walleye Cakes from Giggles' Campfire Grill

The second-best walleye experience, just behind casting off a small boat with the loons calling in the background, is digging into a walleye cake at the State Fair. The flaky fish, crispy bread coating and tangy sauce are pure lake country bliss — plus the live music, ample beer selection and proximity to log rolling makes this dish a full-on occasion. Lee Avenue and Cooper Street

The ham loaf from the Hamline Dining Fair at the Minnesota State Fair. Photo by Rick Nelson
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
The ham loaf from the Hamline Dining Fair at the Minnesota State Fair. Photo by Rick Nelson

Ham loaf at Hamline Church Dining Hall

The longest-running food vendor at the fair, and one of the few sit-down restaurants left, Hamline Church Dining Hall has consistently slung Swedish meatballs, baked chicken and ice cream for 125 years. But its signature ham loaf is one of a kind: ground ham and beef are gently seasoned with curry powder and allspice and baked in a brown sugar-vinegar-mustard sauce for a midsummer meatloaf that just works. Dan Patch Avenue between Underwood and Cooper streets

People stand in line for fresh cut french fries. ] (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune) leila.navidi@startribune.com BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Food at the Minnes
Leila Navidi, Star Tribune
People stand in line for fresh cut french fries. ] (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune) leila.navidi@startribune.com BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Food at the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday, August 25, 2016. Rick Nelson reviews the new food this year.

Fresh French Fries

Yes. These are just French fries — no weird serving them on a stick or shtick. And yet a giant cup of these surface-of-the-sun hot fries are a must-eat item. Potatoes grown in Big Lake are cut, soaked, fried and salted, making these fries — a fair staple since 1973 — the epitome of potato delights. Judson Avenue between Nelson and Underwood streets and Liggett Street

GENERAL INFORMATION: Food on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair. IN THIS PHOTO: Falcon Heights., Mn., Sat., Sept. 4, 1999—A Tom Thumb Mini Donut fr
JOEY MCLEISTER, STAR TRIBUNE
GENERAL INFORMATION: Food on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair. IN THIS PHOTO: Falcon Heights., Mn., Sat., Sept. 4, 1999—A Tom Thumb Mini Donut from a bag that sold for $2.75 last year at the Minnesota State Fair.

Tom Thumb Mini-Donuts

Enjoy the childlike delight of watching these diminutive doughnuts being made: Dough plops onto the belt, tumbles into the hot grease and eventually is tossed with that distinctive cinnamon sugar. Even those who swear they don't have a sweet tooth are utterly beguiled by the crispy dough, crunchy sugar topping and magical little bites that disappear with an alarming quickness. They've been a State Fair classic for more than 70 years. Two locations: Underwood Street and Barnes Avenue and Cooper Street between Wright and Dan Patch avenues.

First Kiss Apples, Minnesota Apples, Agriculture Horticulture, $3. I’m ending my long day w/this perfect palate cleanser. It’s a new Honeycrisp re
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
First Kiss Apples, Minnesota Apples, Agriculture Horticulture, $3. I’m ending my long day w/this perfect palate cleanser. It’s a new Honeycrisp relation, and it hits all the right crisp-juicy-tart notes. Thanks, Pine Tree Orchard in White Bear Lake, for the thrilling preview. Photo by Rick Nelson New food at the Minnesota State Fair 2018

Apples

We are an apple state and this early part of the harvest season showcases all the crispy, juicy beauties at the fair. Track down new varieties or frozen cider pops at the Minnesota Apple stand, or indulge with a little cinnamon sugar and pie crust at Minneapple Pie or the Apple Dumplings stands. It's not the fair — or fall — without that first taste of apples. Minnesota Apple, Agriculture Horticulture Building; Minneapple, Judson Avenue between Nelson and Underwood streets; Apple Dumplings, Randall Avenue

Chicken in a waffle, New foods at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair Credit: Rick Nelson ORG XMIT: MIN1408211844508488
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
Chicken in a waffle, New foods at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair Credit: Rick Nelson ORG XMIT: MIN1408211844508488

Chicken in a waffle cone from the Blue Barn

Fried popcorn chicken stacked inside a freshly made waffle cone, drizzled with breakfast gravy and harboring a chocolate-covered malted milk ball, is just the kind of snack-food insanity we love about the fair. Blue Barn launched this dish in 2014 and it became an immediate classic. It's a must-order that poses as both breakfast and later-day foods. West End Market

Nordic Waffles (seven varieties), Nordic Waffles, West End Market, $8 and $9. The street food of Norway lands at the Great Minnesota PIg-Out, hurrah.
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
Nordic Waffles (seven varieties), Nordic Waffles, West End Market, $8 and $9. The street food of Norway lands at the Great Minnesota PIg-Out, hurrah. The tender waffles make great vehicles for tasty, thoughtful fillings. Kudos to the b’fast and raspberry-strawberry versions. Go. Photo by Rick Nelson New food at the Minnesota State Fair 2018

Nordic Waffles

From the moment it debuted at the fair in 2019, Nordic Waffles has had constant lines emanating from its gnome-topped cabin. The instant icon brings stateside chef Stine Aasland's thin and lightly crisp Norwegian-style waffles with all manner of fillings, from salmon to berries. And now that Nordic Waffles has closed its spot at Potluck food hall in Roseville's Rosedale Center, this is the only place to have one freshly made. West End Market

The traditions of food at the Minnesota State Fair Begin every year. A few new things beginning in 2004. Sharon Noel, West Indies Soul booth, shows of
TOM WALLACE, STAR TRIBUNE
The traditions of food at the Minnesota State Fair Begin every year. A few new things beginning in 2004. Sharon Noel, West Indies Soul booth, shows off the new menu item jerked chicken.

Jerk chicken roti sandwich at West Indies Soul Food

Owner and chef Sharon Richards-Noel does not pull any "Minnesota nice" punches with her powerful Caribbean flavors. There will be Scotch bonnets involved and every bite is all the better for it. The fiery and flavorful jerk chicken, with just a hint of sweetness, is wrapped in a fluffy blanket of tender-chewy roti. International Bazaar

Maple Cream Nitro Cold Press, MN Farmer Union, DPtch/Cosgrove. 2017 Minnesota State Fair Photo by Rick Nelson
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
Maple Cream Nitro Cold Press, MN Farmer Union, DPtch/Cosgrove. 2017 Minnesota State Fair Photo by Rick Nelson

Maple cream nitro cold press at Minnesota Farmers Union Coffee Shop

Year after year, this booth is a must-stop for some of the fair's freshest and most refined offerings that showcase the delicious hard work of Minnesota family farms. But the little shop outdid itself with this caffeine-charged morning chiller, sweetened with heavenly Minnesota maple syrup. Dan Patch Avenue, between Cooper and Cosgrove streets

The traditions of food at the Minnesota State Fair Begin every year. A few new things beginning in 2004. Chocolate milk at the Got Milk all you can dr
TOM WALLACE, STAR TRIBUNE
The traditions of food at the Minnesota State Fair Begin every year. A few new things beginning in 2004. Chocolate milk at the Got Milk all you can drink barn. Rachel Larson,parents Chris and Cindy, sip on her first cup of chocolate milk.

All You Can Drink Milk Stand

In a place where excess reigns, it's a wonder that this is the only bottomless offering at the fair. Thanks to Minnesota dairy farmers, choose from 2% or chocolate and go wild. (Lactose-sensitive folks may want to walk on by.) Though prices have risen 2,000% over the past seven decades — it debuted for a dime — the $2 cup is still one of the fair's best bargains. Judson Avenue and Clough Street

Blazin’ Deep Fried Green Olives, Fried Fruit & Fried Olives, Grandstand plaza. 2017 Minnesota State Fair Photo by Rick Nelson
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
Blazin’ Deep Fried Green Olives, Fried Fruit & Fried Olives, Grandstand plaza. 2017 Minnesota State Fair Photo by Rick Nelson

Deep-fried cream cheese-stuffed olives at Fried Olives on a Stick

Sometimes, the best fair food is the first fair food — and that depends entirely on where you enter. Come in on Como Avenue and you might kick things off with something creamy from the Dairy Barn. Start out at the campgrounds, and Giggles is within range. Those arriving by public transit get dropped off near the Grandstand, and have some exceptional options within the first few steps. One of our favorites is the salty-creamy-crunchy stick of deep-fried cream cheese-stuffed olives. It satisfies just about every long-abided fair-food craving. West of Nelson Street, south of the grandstand

Chocolate malt from the ADA’s Dairy Goodness Bar at the Minnesota State Fair Food Parade.
Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune
Chocolate malt from the ADA’s Dairy Goodness Bar at the Minnesota State Fair Food Parade.

Chocolate malt

Whether you're loyal to Dairy Goodness in the Dairy Building or partial to Kiwanis Malts' volunteer-run stand, a cup of soft serve whose closest cousin is the Wendy's Frosty is the surest way to cool down on a hot fair day, and required eating for many fairgoers. Kiwanis, Cosgrove Street between the Fine Art Center and 4-H Building

The lemonade stand that sits across from the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand has relocated to the grass next to the VFW in Roseville after COVID-19 ca
Shari L. Gross, Star Tribune
The lemonade stand that sits across from the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand has relocated to the grass next to the VFW in Roseville after COVID-19 canceled the fair for the sixth time in its history. After a fateful conversation during pizza night, Stacey Barona agreed to set up in the location, donating five percent of profits and donations to the VFW. The stand is fully staffed and will be open daily until August 1. ] Shari L. Gross • shari.gross@startribune.com State Fair food vendors are setting up in parking lots all over the metro. Stacey Barona and family own Cheese-on-a-Stick (and the Giant Slide!). They’ve been selling their food — corn dogs and lemonade, too — from their vintage stand in front of the VFW in Roseville. X’s mark where people should stand to social distance in line. Picnic tables are set up at a distance from one another, and some families tailgate or bring blankets.

Cheese on a Stick and Fresh Lemonade

This vintage fair booth neighboring the Giant Slide has a few specialties, but most repeat customers come for the two in the name: battered chunks of molten American cheese and a giant plastic cup of refreshing lemonade to wash it down. Nelson Street between Dan Patch and Carnes avenues

Turkey sandwich from Turkey To Go
Provided photo,
Turkey sandwich from Turkey To Go

Turkey sandwich at Turkey to Go

While the loon might be the official state bird, the turkey has to be the second. These sandwiches are an ode both to turkey farmers and to the fact that Minnesota is the country's top turkey producer. Bite into the simplicity of a bun piled high with chopped turkey meat seasoned with a mix of garlic and paprika. The squooshy, juicy bites are a handheld delight, and a side of ranch doesn't hurt anybody's feelings. Clough Street between Carnes and Judson avenues

Rick Nelson • Star Tribune The Peg serves breakfast all day at the Minnesota State Fair.
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
Rick Nelson • Star Tribune The Peg serves breakfast all day at the Minnesota State Fair.

Breakfast at the Peg

We can't decide what's more alluringly quaint about the Peg: the fact that it serves breakfast almost all day (and has for nearly 40 years) or that it's the State Fair's only diner with table service. Grab a seat under a red umbrella, order some hotcakes and relax. There's no better place to people-watch at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Outside the Ag-Hort Building

RICK NELSON Midway Mens Club burger stand
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
RICK NELSON Midway Mens Club burger stand

Cheeseburger at the Midway Men's Club

The fair and its cacophony of fried foods can be a bit of a bear on the wallet. That's why it's key to know about the burger at the Midway Men's Club. The simple steamed burgers, layered with a melty, orange cheese, are one of the few bargains at the fair, priced cheaper than your average fast food stop ($2.50 when we last had one in 2018). The burgers aren't just a tasty reprieve from the high-ticket dishes, but they're also a fundraiser. Since 1960, the fair has helped fund the group's neighborhood youth programs on St. Paul's East Side. Underwood Street between Wright and Dan Patch avenues

Rick Nelson gives us a lineup of fair foods and drinks that are worth standing in line to try at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair. 1919 Draft Root Beer s
Tom Wallace, Star Tribune
Rick Nelson gives us a lineup of fair foods and drinks that are worth standing in line to try at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair. 1919 Draft Root Beer stand has been pouring for twenty years. ] TOM WALLACE • twallace@startribune.com __Assignments #20019405C_ August 28, 2011_ SLUG: fairfood0901_ EXTRA INFORMATION:

1919 Root Beer

Made in New Ulm, this fizzy treat is the epitome of frosty root beer. The proprietary mix of smooth vanilla flavor and the nose-tickling delivery is an ideal icy pairing with any other bite at the fair. 1919 is brewed in small batches using only real sugar as a sweetener. Southeast corner of Dan Patch Av. and Underwood St.

Horchata soft serve milkshake from Midtown Global Market’s Andy’s Garage. ] LEILA NAVIDI • leila.navidi@startribune.com BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
Leila Navidi, Star Tribune
Horchata soft serve milkshake from Midtown Global Market’s Andy’s Garage. ] LEILA NAVIDI • leila.navidi@startribune.com BACKGROUND INFORMATION: New fair foods for 2021 at the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights on Thursday, August 26, 2021.

Midtown Global Market

Through the years, this stand inside the International Bazaar has delivered consistent excitement with its rotating selection of vendors. Every year, two businesses from the Lake Street food hall each spend a week at the fair, and the results often become classics. Hot Indian now has their own stand and Manny's Tortas has normalized walking around the fair while drinking out of a pineapple (both vendors have moved to the Food Building). This year brings Venezuelan arepas and deep-fried empanadas to the the Great Minnesota Get-Together, and we can't wait. International Bazaar