Fair Food Review Criteria

The food at the Minnesota State Fair is undoubtedly the star of the show, and the subject of most of the discussion that surrounds the Fair each year. With thousands of options from hundreds of vendors, wading through your choices to find the best of the best can be a daunting task. Plenty has been said about classic Fair foods like the Pronto Pup and cheese curds that are traditions for many Fairgoers, but each year brings a bumper crop of new creations vying for your money and attention.

That’s where Fairly Unbalanced steps in to help! We will be trying as many of this year’s new foods and beverages as we can and reviewing them in real-time from the Fairgrounds. In the next 12 days, this site will feature individual posts rating each item we try as we go through the Fairgrounds consuming all the new hits (and unfortunate misses). These items will be ranked from 0-4 on five key criteria, described below, that we believe make for a great Fair food product:


  • This criteria is fairly self-evident, but it’s also the most critical. If your new food or beverage does not taste good, all other criteria that it excels in will fall to the wayside. Taste is also the criteria that is most relative to the opinion of the reviewer, so we will try to describe in detail what we like or do not like about the flavors experienced so you the reader can make your own judgment on whether or not you should give the item a try.


  • This criteria encompasses your first experience with the product, before you ever taste it. How a Fair food looks is vital to your conception of the product. Some foods taste great, but look unappetizing; others look terrible but contain incredible flavor or other qualities present in a great Fair food.


  • This criteria is similar to Appearance, but more specific to offerings at the Minnesota State Fair rather than a traditional restaurant or grocery item review. A huge part of the fun of the Fair is trying foods that you can only easily find at the Fair or are done up extravagantly for their Fair version. The idea is will the item make fellow Fairgoers stop you on the street and ask “WHERE did you get THAT?!” On the low end of the novelty scale would be something like a basic cheeseburger; the sky is the limit for the high end as the Fair has earned a reputation for fostering a home for the most creative and over-the-top items imaginable. Novelty is not the be-all-end-all for Fair foods, as some of the most iconic Fair foods like the Roasted Corn and Corn Dog are indelible but would rate low on novelty, but this is the most fun criteria to take into consideration.


  • The Fair has a reputation for being expensive, and while there are some great deals to be had, there are also a number of items that simply are not worth the price the vendor charges. We hope to fairly assess the balance between the product you receive and the amount you pay in ranking whether each item is at a good price or not. This is not as simple as the cheapest products gain the highest score, as we will take what you get for that price into consideration as well.


  • The final criteria to consider is how easy the product is to walk around with at the Fair. This is a bit of a strange criteria to consider but vital for your experience at the Fair; while there are plenty of places to sit down to tuck into a more cumbersome food item, the on-the-go nature of most people’s day at the Fair means being able to walk around while consuming the product is a desirable attribute. This explains the prevalence of everything on-a-stick! High marks for portability may mean little else for the other four criteria, but in the context of the Fair, it is worthy of consideration.

A perfect score on all five criteria results in 20 points. A general breakdown of overall scores is:

  • 0-5: Fried-Out Flop
  • 6-10: Better Luck Next Year
  • 11-15: Fairly Fresh
  • 16-20: Blue Ribbon Best

Using these five criteria, we look to bring you detailed and considered reviews of what’s new to the Fair this year. Stay tuned beginning tomorrow morning, Thursday, August 23rd, as we begin working our way through the checklist of new items!

P.S. looking for a list of what’s new this year? Use our 2018 Fairly Unbalanced New Foods and Beverages List! This list covers all this year’s newest offerings, including descriptions, locations and availability; prices will be made available once the Fair begins on August 23rd. The list can be found at https://goo.gl/1vreRL or from the Fair Information page at the top of our homepage.

Categories Reviews

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