By Jennifer Wilson
Double bacon corn dog.
There will be bacon. A whole lot of bacon.
I'm telling you this now so that you'll be ready. When the Iowa State Fair kicks off on Thursday, you'll witness all manner of handwringing about the eating habits of my people, the Iowans, and this year's most noteworthy debutante, the Double Bacon Corn Dog. But she is a fine, fine baby. And we don't really give a damn what other people say. We don't. Because we get to eat a weenie wrapped in bacon, then dipped in corn-dog batter infused with more bacon. And they don't.
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The folks at Campbell's Concessions, a local, family-owned corn-dog provider since 1954 (co-owner Helen Little was virtually raised on the State Fair grounds while her dad, Mel, sold poncho dogs) have elevated the corn dog to a new level. It will sing to the soul of Iowa's pork connoisseurs. (Believe me, they are legion.) Little and her crew start with the weenie on the stick and wrap it in bacon, securing it with toothpicks. Here, they fry it for the first time, just enough to sear the bacon onto the hot dog. Next, the bacon-weenie is dipped in corn-dog batter with bacon bits. A second dip in the fryer, remove the toothpicks, and there's your State Fair delicacy (pictured above).
It's crunchy on the outside, smooth and soft on the inside. Salty from the bacon and dog, sweet from the corn. Sure, it's a quick job for the crowds, and if I were to make one at home, I'd add whole corn kernels to the batter and cook the bacon wrap until it was fully crisp. But the en masse version is still as tasty and decadent as it sounds. The price is $5, a dollar above the standard-issue corn dog, and well worth it. Helen Little, a chipper blonde whose loyal employees have charged into the fair with her for decades, says, "I think it's something everyone should try. Once."
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When news of the Double Bacon Corn Dog broke, Little was fielding calls from New York, Texas, California, Florida, all with the same question: What on earth was Iowa putting on a stick now? To which I'd ask: Why do you people only seem to notice us when we fry stuff and put it on a stick? Ah, hell. What do we care anyway? The Iowa State University food-science folks called, too, asking for a Double Bacon Corn Dog on which to conduct some food analysis. The jury is still out, Little says. But for what it's worth, a regular corn dog still has less fat than the King Midas-style turkey leg.
Much mirth is often made of our state's yearly fat-bath. I've listened many times to The Cardiologists' Lament over our deep-fried traditions: Twinkies, Snickers bars, whole sticks of butter. Sure. We're more feeders than foodies. We get it. Once a year, we own it. Judge our bacon-baby if you want. We don't eat like this every day. Well, most of us don't. Just the ones riding on Rascals, and you've got 'em in your state, too. And no doubt you have your own seasonal indulgences. Chubby duck liver? Fish eggs? It's cool. My people happen to like bacon wieners dipped in bacon-y corn batter and fried. We're even.
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