If it can be deep fried, there’s a good chance the Calgary Stampede midway has it.
The new offerings on this year’s menu include Jell-O cubes, lemonade and chicken feet – all battered and dunked into hot oil until crispy.
Kali Fournier and her boyfriend Damon Turner started with the chicken feet, which are served on a stick with honey mustard or ketchup for dipping.
“A little chewy,” Fournier said after the first bite. “It’s a little sweet. It’s really good.”
The couple were planning to hit the deep-fried Jell-O and cookie-dough cones next.
Midway operations manager James Radke said there are around 50 new foods on the menu this year.
“We always look for things that create a lot of excitement in our guests, that create an emotional response when they think about it or talk about it,” he said.
“We’re always looking for new an unique ideas.”
The Stampede kicks off today with the parade. Temperatures for the opening weekend are expected to be around 30 C, so Radke is expecting cold treats to be popular.
Those include chili-infused lemonade, ice cream sandwiched between squares of colourful kids’ cereal and Troll Pops, which are bright blue Popsicles swirled in pink cotton candy.
Marie Belanger, who’ll be working at the Cookie Dough Stand all week, said she’s expecting big crowds – especially for the cold confections.
“I’m really expecting that we’re going to be super busy,” she said. “It’s going to be a scorcher. People are going to want to stay cool.”
Food blogger Mateo Zoto was drawn to the Troll Pop.
“The colours just screamed at you,” he said. “I’ve honestly never had anything like this. It’s really sugary but, honestly, I love that.”
Jessalyn Holt got a scoop of unicorn cookie dough, which had colourful sprinkles and marshmallows mixed in.
“It’s just as delicious as I thought it would be,” she said. “I normally go for a corndog. Corndogs and mini-donuts are kind of a classic.”
For the more adventurous, the midway is also featuring pizza billed as the world’s hottest, topped with Carolina reaper pepper extract and puree.
Tristin Ukmar, who travelled from Florida to work the stand, said an eight-slice pizza will be made every day. Names will be drawn to choose who gets to try it.
Whoever can finish a slice without drinking anything gets US$50, Ukmar said.
Staff at the stand did a test run and no one was able to eat their whole slice, he added.
“It’s going to hurt a lot. Mentally, be prepared. Physically, you can’t prepare yourself.”
Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press