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From fried strawberry cheesecake to mealworm pizza, there’s no shortage of junk food at the 2018 Arkansas State Fair.

But not every food option at the fair is unhealthy. The winner of this year’s most creative food item went to L&M Concessions’ chicken-salad stuffed cucumber. No sugar. No carbs. No deep frying.

“We had a lot of people say the reason they liked it so much is because most things at the fair are fried, but this is a healthy alternative for people to come and enjoy,” L&M Concessions spokeswoman Nancy Rana said. “And then you still have a little wiggle room for something deep fried.”

The food vendor began experimenting with the recipe after an employee saw the dish at another event. Making the chicken salad was easy, but keeping the cucumber in one piece after it was hollowed was more difficult, Rana said.

Gallery: FIRST LOOK: 2018 Arkansas State Fair foods

“It snowballed from there, and it all came together for us,” she said. “We were hoping to win an award. We try really hard every year, so we’re thrilled.”

Although it was the first year the food distributor has won an award, L&M Concessions has been serving its concoctions at the fair for years, Rana said. Best-selling items, such as fried pineapple rings and Frosted Flake chicken, will return alongside several new items like pina colada shortcake and deep-fried corn on the cob that the company is debuting this year.

“I really thought the pina colada shortcake was going to win,” Rana said. “We had a lot of positive comments on that one. I think that’s one everyone should come and try.”

Attendees can expect a plethora of Spam recipes with its selection as one of the fair’s focus foods. The canned meat brand is helping sponsor the event, earning it a place on the menu of food vendors that have created dishes like the Hawaiian Spam burger and deep-fried Spamwich.

Fried food is plentiful among the fair’s 55 vendors from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, spokesman Ralph Eubanks said. Popular items like fried strawberry cheesecake and more out-there choices like mealworm pizza can be purchased in the concessions area across from the main stage when the fair opens at 4 p.m. Thursday.

In addition to rolling out new foods, organizers are introducing new deals to save patrons money. A new ticket option available this year is the $30 super pass, which can be purchased at Tropical Smoothie locations throughout Arkansas and is valid for one gate admission and a one-day ride wristband.

Admission and parking will also be available for half price on “Thrifty Thursdays” until the fair closes Oct. 21.

“We hope that everyone can come out and enjoy the fair,” Rana said. “We love to have customers come and enjoy themselves and enjoy our food.”

Print Headline: State fair food includes fried strawberry cheesecake, mealworm pizza + more

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