There’s only one place to go when you’re craving a snack that’s deep fried and served on a stick. Carnival food is a guilty pleasure. It’s the ultimate junk food. So, when did this culinary debauchery begin? We have the St. Louis Exposition (World’s Fair) of 1904 to thank for introducing us to much of the carnival foods we enjoy today, such as: waffle cones, cotton candy, hot dogs, and hamburgers to name a few. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the 1919 State Fair of Texas for sno cones and again in 1942 for corn dogs. Sometime during the 1950’s, the Kutztown Folk Festival gave us funnel cakes.
Our torrid love affair with carnival food has only grown over the years. Explore any fair or carnival and you’ll see brightly lit signs advertising bizarre snacks that seem like they were originally eaten as a dare. This is what carnival cuisine is all about— trying a bold new food-type-thing or chowing down on old favorites. It’s a one of a kind indulgence and this is America, so enjoy.
Work your way down the thoroughfare. Eat till you just. can’t. anymore. If you’re feeling bold, ride the Tilt-a-Whirl, too. There will be plenty of time for regret later.
Write a poem about your favorite carnival food. Describe it in detail, whether it’s messy, turns your tongue blue, or even if it’s almost too embarrassing to admit it’s your favorite. Think of it as an ode to weird food, your steely nerve, and cast-iron stomach.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Jen took us skyward with her poem, On Top of the World:
On Top of the World
For just a few seconds
we’ll hang out here
in a creaky basket atop the Ferris wheel
while a few more people climb in,
above the noise and the color and the overload
the endless round and round calliope carousel
the echoing shrieks from the Gravitron and Zipper
the tumbling laughing conversations melting, melding
into a fog of noise.
All that exists now
is this creaky old basket
(how many people have sat here?)
a pool of sound and light below,
a hazy, cloudy night above,
just enough summer breeze to breathe
before we swing forward.
Photo by Kevin Dooley, Creative Commons via Flickr.
Browse more Circus & Carnival poems
Browse more writing prompts
Browse poetry teaching resources
- Poetry Prompt: Misunderstood Lion - March 19, 2018
- Animate: Lions & Lambs Poetry Prompt - March 12, 2018
- Poetry Prompt: Behind the Velvet Rope - February 26, 2018
Rick Maxson says
The Love Song of Alfred’s Fried Quickdogs
Se ho creduto che ho detto
una persona non dovrebbe tornare a questo
corridoio, La fiamma padella non necessita più di me.
Ma perché burro fritto colpisce profondamente, non posso
resistere al ritorno qui, è vero, senza timore di coronarie proclamo
Let us go then, you and I,
Where the Ferris wheel circles into the sky,
Like a funnel cake upright in my fingers;
Let us go where vendors deep-fry treats,
Of butter and fat meats
And restless crowds spend hours as if some spells
Were cast on them in the House of Haunts,
A curse that followed them insisting
on the penitents of Lent
And the silliness of nutritional type question,
Oh do not ask, “Will it make me sick?”
It’s like a corndog fried in Bisquick..
At the restrooms people come and go,
Holding their stomachs and moaning ohhhhh.
Heather Eure says
“Oh do not ask, ‘Will it make me sick?'”
My mind’s response to the Quckdog:
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
How funny! Thanks for the chuckle, Rick.
Ian Graham says
To show candy floss
Just who’s the boss
I left it uneaten
A move that won’t sweeten
The mood of a dandy
Great cotton candy
But will, I advise,
Bring it down to size.
Candace Kubinec says
The rides are still and
Lights in the park are dimming
She leaves with the best
Prize – candied apple, heaven
On a stick
The crunch of the first bite
Teeth punching through the
Sticky, red sugar crust
Juice of a tart Autumn apple
Dripping slowly down her chin
Landing on her yellow shirt –
Happy, swooning in the back seat
Squiggles of dough
Dusted with snow
So chewy and sweet
my favorite treat
among sugary temptations
across all our great nation.
Holding the paper plate in my hand
your warmth feels so marvelously grand
How you came to be carnival food
Don’t know – who cares – you sure help my mood.
Even your fragrance makes me drool
For fried cake I am a fool.