So Who Won the Chow Bella Fair Food Challenge?

The Arizona State Fair opens today, and it seems my Chow Bella chums thought it would be a good idea to have our very own fair food showdown to properly kick off this 18-day event of livestock, concerts, crazy-ass rides, and, most notably, crazy-ass foods.

Each day this week, a member of the Chow Bella team posted his or her showdown entry, including the why behind the selection, the recipe, personal experiences during the making of it, and not nearly enough ass-kissing of the showdown's judge: ME.

So before I announce the winner, let's talk criteria. The challenge is fair food, and from someone who's eaten a chocolate-covered scorpion, fried butter, a burger between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and who wouldn't flinch at taking a bite of this year's maggot melt sandwich, (okay, I'd probably flinch a little), that means gut-busting, sinfully good eats best enjoyed after a spin or two on The Tango.

Ready? Let's eat some flippin' fair food.

CUTEST ENTRY Lemon-Thyme & Blackberry Snow Cones Nicole Smith Like a wonderfully thirst-quenching mini snow cone shot, Nicole brought the icy game with this cool sugary treat. Points for the unique flavor combination and for not realizing I'd been using her blender to make frozen daiquiris in the New Times storage closet during lunch. Get the deets and the recipe here.

BEST PRESENTATION Rainbow Chocolate Bacon Pecan Caramel Corn Amy Silverman These bagfuls of goodness were devoured soundly at our Chow Bella meeting, and the ingredients worked well together in every handful. Points for rainbow sprinkles and the trendy bakery twine. If anyone spies smudges of chocolate on our new conference table, blame the interns. Here's the recipe.

AWESOME RUNNER-UP Cheesecake Choco-Berries Erica O'Neil Strawberries filled with cream cheese, dipped in dark chocolate, put on a stick, and sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs? Hells yeah. Melt-in-your-mouth and decidedly decadent, leave it to Erica to whip up a creation this delicious. Points for letting me sell the recipe to half the bakeries in town -- wait, you said it was okay, right?

WINNER Triple Bacon Corn Monstrosities Ando Muneno The perfect combination of ghastly meets gut-busting, these hefty hunks of bacon wrapped in bacon SPAM and then fried in batter with, you guessed it, more bacon, then stuck on a stick like an over-size freakshow lollipop, screams fair food goodness in every way. Dare to make them yourself here.

Congratulations, Ando. Up until now, I didn't realize our interns even had names -- KIDDING! -- now what's the ETA on my mineral water?

What say you, fair food fans? What entries were your favorite? What would you have submitted?

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld