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culture

Our Deep-Fried Nightmare at the CNE

We come face to face with the CNE's butteriest and batteriest culinary calamities.

Otherwise perfectly sane human beings line up for Epic Burgers and Waffles, makers of the Krispy Kreme Burger and the Behemoth Burger, in the Food Building at the CNE.

Whenever you buy a ticket to the CNE, it’s a statement of fortitude. The fair grounds not only represent carefree summer fun, they’re also where today’s urbanites can test their grit. Kids compete in Zipper marathons until the first one yacks, or a boyfriend proves his merit with a stuffed animal won for his lady love. Even pets are pitted against each other, in judged gaming and grooming competitions.

But at today’s CNE, everyone knows the real place to gauge your gallantry, to really make your stomach flip in fear and/or excitement, isn’t on the midway. It’s in the food court.

We hate to admit it, but the PR machine behind the Ex’s culinary catastrophes is working. During our visit, the lineups for the Krispy Kreme Burger, Deep Fried Cola, and Deep Fried Butter almost rivaled those for the actual rides.

But enough talking. Now with the eating!

Deep-Fried Peanut Butter and Jam

The PB and J were no match for the thick batter - but still, it was one of the better treats of the day.

Price: $5

Media Buzz: Low

Appearance: Three PB & J sandwich halves, dipped in batter and deep-fried on a stick, sprinkled with icing sugar, laid in a basket and accompanied by a piece of cantaloupe and pineapple (to make it healthy). It doesn’t look too off-putting—it reminds us of a Monte Cristo sandwich is all.

Going in: Our first meal, our hopes were high. What could go wrong?

Payoff: Less than thrilling. The peanut butter and jam ratio may have worked with plain bread, but the extra batter overwhelms the filling. The stick is an ineffective holding device. The fruit is actually surprisingly refreshing, though. We get all three servings down.

Deep-Fried Cola

Deep-fried cola, without all the fancy trimmings of whipped cream and cherries.

Price: $6.75

Media Buzz: Huge

Appearance: Dark brown and shiny worm-like pieces of batter, soft to the touch, piled in a biodegradable cup. It comes topped with cola syrup, more icing sugar, whipped cream, and two cherries.

Going in: Overwhelming curiosity, high levels of fear and anxiety. High risk for potentially high rewards.

Payoff: The cola flavour is subtle and slightly bitter, but the soggy texture of the batter makes the serving impossible to finish. One of the least messy items, but overall one of the least appetizing of the day. “It tastes like maybe I had a Coke an hour ago, and then ate a lot of deep-fried batter,” said our photographer. “I keep telling myself it’ll be worth it, but it’s not, ever.”

Deep-Fried Fudge

One big fist of deep-fried fudge, with a loonie for your reference.

Price: $5

Media Buzz: Medium to low

Appearance: The fudge booth boasts a variety of tempting fudge flavours, like Maple Walnut, Birthday Cake, and Blueberries and Cream. Deep-fried versions only come in Maple, Vanilla, or Chocolate. They come on a stick (of course), and when they emerge from the deep-frier they’re rounder in shape and about the size of a baseball. The coating is crispy, and there is the obligatory sprinkling of icing sugar. A plastic cutlery pack with a knife, spoon, fork, and napkin (yay!) are provided, which is nice.

Going in: High expectations. And also relief that bikini season is just about over.

Payoff: This stuff is like a cakier, richer, heavier Beavertail. Not a bad thing at all if you have a sweet tooth and a few people to split it with. Still, we wish we’d had the fudge on its own.

The Krispy Kreme Burger

The Krispy Kreme Burger, in all its shiny horror.

Price: $8

Media Buzz: Very, very high

Appearance: Vile. The doughnut bun is crushed flat, and its sugary glaze is shiny and clumpy from the heat. The burger patty itself is less offensive. A fried egg and bacon are optional. It also looks much smaller than you would expect, for an eight-dollar burger.

Going in: Trepidation high, morale low. Expecting very little enjoyment, possible artery damage. (One large bite is about 300 calories).

Payoff: First off, it’s a pain to eat. Fingers: sticky. Napkins: essential. Beard: UNFRIENDLY. We get the whole sweet and savory combo, but we’ll take chocolate-covered pretzels over this any day. If eaten alone, the patty is fine. The same does not go for the doughnut, it is ruined forever. In summation: this does not taste good.

The Behemoth

Enter the Behemoth!

Price: $9 (the priciest of the day)

Media Buzz: Medium to high

Appearance: A burger patty with lettuce and tomato, sandwiched by two white bread grilled cheeses.

Going in: Out of everything, this was the easiest for us to wrap our heads around.

Payoff: Once we pried our jaws open wide enough to get the sandwich in, we were pleasantly surprised (at least, in comparison with our earlier fare). Even the processed cheese was a relief. Finally, textures and tastes our bodies understood! Sadly, images of Alien-like creatures exploding from our bellies kept us from finishing the two burgers.

Deep-Fried Butter

Going in the frier, smooth as butter.

Price: $5

Media Buzz: High. These little guys were the star of the show last year.

Appearance: Four round batter balls resembling chicken balls—with sticks, of course. Each ball has its own flavour of drizzle: chocolate, vanilla, berry, and caramel. And powdered sugar, duh.

Going in: Who cares at this point? We’re about to eat battered butter, for crying out loud. Our stomachs are aching, our moods are foul, and patience is running thin after waiting in a line that must have been 100 feet long.

Payoff: The insides melted in the high heat of the oil, leaving nothing but buttery batter. Which actually wasn’t the worst thing we’d had.

Deep-Fried Twinkie

This Hostess was the grossest. A deep-fried Twinkie from the depths of hell.

Price: $5

Buzz: Medium, less of a novelty than the rest.

Appearance: A fatter-than-normal corn dog, drenched in chocolate sauce and covered in peanuts, on a stick. No powdered sugar, heyo!

Going in: Dear God, make it stop.

Payoff: Probably our lowest moment. The batter was dry, the creamy filling non-existent. We could only manage a few bites before dropping it in self-disgust, sobs on the edge of erupting from our throats. CNE, you win. We give up. Now let us out of your clutches so we can go puke, or cry, or curl up in the fetal position, or slip into a deep-fried coma. Or all of the above.

Comments

  • ArKane Fyre

    Thank you very much for braving all that grease in the name of journalistic pursuit. I salute you, and don’t want to eat for a week.

  • Fannishsunny

    Thanks for braving the deep fryer — and including prices! Heading to the Ex and will amend purchases based on this article.

  • Anonymous

    Wait – you didn’t try the deep-fried Cherry Kool Aid? Cowards!

  • http://twitter.com/Welshgrrl Vashty Hawkins

    The behemoth doesn’t look bad, but everything else sounds revolting (and not worth the $$)

    • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

      If you want to spend your hard earned cash on crazy burgers, local burger shop “The Burgers Priest” in the east end would be a MUCH better investment.

  • Diego

    Bout time somebody got on this. Media outlets always buzz about what weird food items will be at The Ex but besides naming them, we get few precious details. The only thing missing here is locations.

    Every time I go to The Ex food building I’m amazed at how hard it is to find these items that have been talked about for weeks.

    Anyways, thanks Torontoist!

  • http://twitter.com/EatDrinkToronto Ally T

    Love it! Thanks guys. I’m pretty bummed the PB&J wasn’t good – I had high hopes.

    I find it really curious that everyone made such a big deal about the Krispy Kreme burger – this has been DONE, people. The States started doing ‘em years ago. Also – how many people in the world will have a burger + separate doughnut for lunch anyway? Eh, I’m just not impressed with it.

    Deep fried butter on the other hand…

    • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

      Out of everything, the PB&J sandwich was the least bad. If they doubled or tripled the amount of filling, it’d be the only thing I would consider purchasing again.

      • Anonymous

        Key words being “less bad” and not “the best”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1650270101 Chris Nguyen

    Are you fucking kidding me?

    I agree with you on the deep fried butter in that it was gooood. It was like a hollow donut.

    But for you to say the Krispy Kreme burger was bad?? You’re nuts! It was so good. The touch of sweetness added so much to the burger and it tasted awesome.

    • Anonymous

      It’s a very particular taste – we’ll have to agree to disagree.

      Also, did you have three deep-fried snacks before having the Krispy Kreme burger? Try not hating everything after that.

    • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

      Adding something like fruit (pineapple: http://beta.torontoist.com/2011/07/_throughout_history_all_art/ ) to a hamburger I would consider a ‘touch’ of sweetness.

      I can’t think of too many people that would define a pair of liquid-sugar glazed donuts as “a touch” sweet.

      I’ve made my own homemade burgers with french toast as a bun substitute and included maple syrup (delicious) – but the artificial sugary sweetness of the donut burger was, personally, unbearable.

  • Debsagrrl

    Wow! These prices are scary…

  • Amanda

    You didn’t try the Mars bars? Sweetness overload, but still delicious and probably the most reasonable to combine with batter.

  • http://twitter.com/hapajess Jess S.

    Great article – but I think I just threw up a little.

  • An Individual

    Somebody should set up a stand where they challenge all the kids subsisting on junk food to try something really icky like a carrot or a fresh tomato. Sell it as a gross-out novelty and you will make a fortune.

  • Dee

    You guys should use a different font. Reading this makes my head hurt.

  • Pingback: It’s Pierogies vs Perogies at this year’s Ex, but something’s missing | Ukrainian Canadian

  • DeepFriedComma

    Where did you find the Deep Fried PB&J. I’ve been a few times this year and didn’t see it. Going back Monday so hope to find it!!!