The 10 Unhealthiest Fair Foods To Avoid & 10 Healthier Options To Enjoy

The 10 Unhealthiest Fair Foods To Avoid & 10 Healthier Options To Enjoy

One thing many people can't wait for when summer comes around the corner is going back to those beloved fairs full of fun attractions, delicious food, and entertaining games. Food is a major part of enjoying your time at the fair, but we're going to be real with you today. Most of the stuff offered there is incredibly unhealthy! If you're taking care of your health this year but still want to enjoy your time at these events, here are 10 unhealthy fair foods to watch out for, and 10 healthier options you can still enjoy.

1. Cheese Curds

When we talk about unhealthy fair food, we're talking about all those deep-fried, greasy snacks. While deep-fried cheese curds are a common favourite for many fair-goers, it's quite the unhealthy treat that's loaded with fats that are bad for you and is very high in calories. 

1024Px-Fried Cheese Curds (6043329993)Quinn Dombrowski from Berkeley, USA on Wikimedia Commons

2. Deep-Fried Butter

Next on the list - deep-fried butter. We're not quite sure how this one came about, but deep-frying sticks of butter doesn't exactly sound like a healthy thing for the body. It's an incredibly indulgent snack that you can expect to be loaded with calories, saturated fats, and cholesterol. Your arteries definitely won't be thanking you after this one.

1024Px-Deep-Fried Butter At State Fair Of Texas 2009A (1)Collin Harvey from Grand Prairie, Texas, USA on Wikimedia Commons

3. Fried Oreos

Fried Oreos are one of those sweet treats you can't find often in other places, but you can definitely see it at many fairs, making a name for itself as a staple dessert. Deep-fried until crispy and greasy on the outside, the inside is left with a warm and soft cookie. While Oreos are already pretty high in calories and loaded in trans fats, deep-frying it definitely only adds to those counts.

1024Px-I'm Disappointed I Couldn't Find The Fried Butter, But Hey, This Is A Close Second  Deep Fried Brownies And Oreos  (13913893428)Antonio Zugaldia from Washington, D.C., United States on Wikimedia Commons

4. Funnel Cake

When we think about iconic fair foods, you definitely can't leave out funnel cake! With their unique, weird-looking shapes, these deep-fried, battered concoctions are served hot and oh so crispy. Once they're topped with icing sugar, you best believe that these sweet snacks are high in calories, saturated fats, and sugars. Nutrition and funnel cake aren't exactly two words that ever make it in the same sentence.

Joe-Zlomek-Aid0Qbvblka-UnsplashPhoto by Joe Zlomek on Unsplash


5. Bacon-Wrapped Everything

As you enjoy yourself at your local fair and walk down all the booths, one word you'll likely see over and over again is "bacon, bacon, and more bacon." It won't be hard to spot a variety of bacon-wrapped foods, everything ranging from hot dogs to jalapeños. But as we all know, bacon is a processed meat that isn't exactly healthy. Being high in fat, sodium, and preservatives, wrapping this meat around other foods only makes it unhealthier. 

1024Px-Loop Neighborhood Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog (43468261852)Willis Lam on Wikimedia Commons

6. Giant Turkey Legs

While giant versions of anything are fun to look at and offer a bit of novelty to the consumer, having excess of anything is never really a good thing. You might look at those giant turkey legs offered at fairs and think, "Hey, that seems healthier than the bacon-wrapped hot dog next door," but in reality, these turkey legs are often smoked or fried, and can have quite a high amount of sodium and fat. Not to mention, with such an enormous size, of course the calorie count is going to be higher too!

1024Px-Goobbler Legs Good Enough To Gobble (2442220945)Ken Bosma from Tucson, Arizona, USA on Wikimedia Commons

7. Corn Dogs

Corn dogs are popular fair favourites that are beloved for their indulgent taste and convenience. After all, as you wander around the fair looking at all the attractions, what's easier than a meal on a stick? But you can't ignore that these treats have a thick outer layer that's deep-fried, and an inner meat filling that's typically processed and high in bad fats, preservatives, and calories too.

1024Px-Corn Dogsanokarina on Wikimedia Commons

8. Deep-Fried Chocolate Bars

What do you get when you combine deep-fried foods with chocolate bars like Snickers? A high in sugar, high in fat, and high in calories dessert that's incredibly rich and indulgent. Dipped in a thick batter before being deep-fried to create that crispy exterior that contrasts the melted, chocolatey interior, it's a decadent treat commonly found at fairs. Definitely not something you want to be putting into your body on the regular.

1024Px-Deep-Fried Snickers (2023 Nc State Fair) 03Hameltion on Wikimedia Commons

9. Elephant Ears

No, no, not real elephant ears! Despite its funny name, this treat found across many fairs is a sweet one; it's essentially thin pieces of fried dough that are sprinkled with sugar or cinnamon (or maybe both?). There's a variety of different toppings you could have, but each one only adds to the amount of sugar and unhealthy fats.

1024Px-Fried Dough Sugar TableArge300exx, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

10. Fried Pickles

Of course, if we're going to talk about all the fried goodies found at the fair, there's no way we could possibly leave out fried pickles. Instead of sweet, these savory bites are a popular favourite. People love them for their simplicity (but maybe not their nutritional value?). We all know pickles alone are already quite unhealthy, not to mention incredibly high in sodium, but adding the frying process to it just adds in unhealthy trans fats that turn this snack into an even more unhealthy one.

1024Px-Slim Chickens Fried PicklesGuanaco on Wikimedia Commons


1. Grilled Corn on the Cob

The perfect, easy-to-grab-and-go snack at any fair is obviously grilled corn on the cob. Bringing a hint of summer to your fair snacking, this is easily one of the more healthy options you can find. And with corn already being such a sweet, delicious vegetable, this is certainly one you'll enjoy eating.

Randy-Fath-Hrnkozvstjk-UnsplashPhoto by Randy Fath on Unsplash

2. Fresh Fruit Cups

Fresh fruit cups that are left as is, not coated in chocolate or sugar, are incredibly delicious, energizing, and good for the body! Instead of grabbing any of those other sugary goodies we've listed previously, picking up a fruit cup is definitely a healthy option that won't give you that unwanted sugar crash. 

Shraga-Kopstein-Slz3Awzrqmm-UnsplashPhoto by shraga kopstein on Unsplash

3. Skewers

When simply roasted or grilled, skewers can be a much healthier and hearty snack option than many others offered at the fair. Combining juicy chunks of meat with a variety of different vegetables, it's a much more balanced meal that can be quite rare to find there. 

Tuan-Nguy-N-Minh-Vk6B4Fbr464-UnsplashPhoto by Tuân Nguyễn Minh on Unsplash

4. Smoothies

Less sugary than many other drink offerings you'll find here, smoothies are a great option that can be both nutritious and super tasty. There are plenty of different flavours to choose from, often made using fresh fruits, vegetables, and yogurt. And under the hot summer sun, it'll definitely be a refreshing choice you won't regret.

1024Px-Delaware State Fair - 2012 (7737837288)Lee Cannon from Bayville aka West Fenwick, DE, USA on Wikimedia Commons

5. Roasted Nuts

In terms of snacking, there's nothing more addictive than a satisfying bag of roasted nuts. Pick your favorite, whether it's your classic peanut, almond, or cashew. Providing you with some protein, fiber, and healthy fats, these snacks will have you munching and feeling full as you wander around. It's definitely healthier than some of the other options provided!

1024Px-U. Dist. Street Fair 2007 CashewsJoe Mabel on Wikimedia Commons

6. Wraps

Whether it's a pita wrap, a donair wrap, or a classic sandwich wrap, these hearty options are one of the more filling yet nutritious food options you'll have at a fair. Filled with tasty, lean proteins like grilled chicken, a fresh mix of vegetables, and a delicious sauce like hummus, it's certainly a more wholesome meal that won't make you feel tired and heavy after.

1024Px-Seeing Some Foot-Long Shadows At The Ia State Fair! (20502052906)Carol VanHook from Altoona, Iowa, United States on Wikimedia Commons


7. Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Compared to all those fried food options we've listed already, doesn't a fresh grilled chicken sandwich seem a lot more filling and energizing for the body? If you have the option to use whole grain or whole wheat bread, even better! Typically loaded with veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and so on, these healthy goodies only add to the sandwich's nutritional value instead of lowering it like the others.

1024Px-Annie'ssandwiches GrilledchickenJose Nicdao on Wikimedia Commons

8. Frozen Yogurt

Most fairs and carnivals usually take place in the summer, meaning it's going to be hot outside! Cool yourself down and keep yourself refreshed by enjoying a delicious cup of frozen yogurt. A lighter, healthier alternative to ice cream, who says you can't enjoy something sweet? If toppings are available, choose some fresh fruit like strawberries to ensure this treat stays healthy and that you don't add any unnecessary sugar. 

1024Px-Easy Breezy Chocolate Custard Frozen Yogurt (26195863484)Willis Lam on Wikimedia Commons

9. Popcorn 

A classic favourite, how could you ever go to the fair without getting yourself a large bag of popcorn to munch on? While certain types might be more unhealthy, if you can find one that's air-popped and lightly salted, popcorn can easily become one of the healthiest snack options around. 

1024Px-Fair Food -Popcorn, Cotton Candy, Candy Applesstu_spivack on Wikimedia Commons

10. Yogurt and Berry Parfaits

If you're really craving something sweet that's equally refreshing and won't give you a sugar crash right after, this healthy treat is definitely appreciated. Nothing like a yogurt parfait topped with ripe, sweet fruits on a hot summer day, right? It's creamy, cool, and surprisingly filling, especially if it's got some crunchy granola thrown in there too. Compared to other sweet treats like deep-fried Mars bars, you can't deny which of the two is healthier for you.

Filip-Mroz-Kmgllfgvlwy-UnsplashPhoto by Filip Mroz on Unsplash