A panel of celebrity judges picked a Best New Deal winner and two finalists for the Best New Food as the Iowa State Fair unveiled all the new foods for 2018.


The new-foods list for the Iowa State Fair has been released, and the panel of judges — including me — tasted all eight of them. 

Two winners were chosen during the event, but a third spot is still up for grabs. You get to help pick the third by casting your vote for a New Fair Food Finalist using the Iowa State Fair App.

Download the Des Moines Register Fair Food Finder app: iPhone | Android | on the Web (updating soon for 2018).

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Interested in Iowa food news? Follow @briantaylorcarlson on Facebook, @BriinDSM on Twitter and @briindsm on Instagram.

Voting closes on Friday, July 20 at 10 a.m., so download and save your favorite new food today.

Judges scored foods based on:

  • Taste/Flavor (50 percent of score)
  • Presentation/Appearance (20 percent of score)
  • Value (20 percent of score)
  • Creativity/Originality (10 percent of score)

MORE: Here's every new food for the 2018 Iowa State Fair

RELATED: Here's how you can vote for a Best New Food for the Iowa State Fair

Here are my scores for all eight of the New Fair Foods for 2018:

Brown Sugar Pork Belly on a Stick

This tasted exactly how bacon would like to be reincarnated as. It was one of my favorite dishes — with a sweet and smoky flavor — and it was appropriately served on a stick.

Score: 9.4

All Iowa Belly Up Burger

You'll need to plan for this belt-buster by wearing an elastic waistband. And make sure you're within walking distance to a nice, comfy spot to sit and digest.

Score: 8.3

Toasted Turkey Bomber

A meatball sandwich at the Iowa State Fair? Yes, indeed. The meatballs were rich and satisfying, and the combination of marinara, melted mozzarella and the toasted roll was spot-on.

Score: 8.3

Apple Egg Roll

Crispy apple egg rolls dusted with cinnamon sugar with caramel sauce for dipping? Yes, please. This would be the perfect finale to a full day at the fair.

Score: 8.1


During the judging, I said I could eat this for breakfast. I take that back. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Soft, warm, sweet pancakes served with optional strawberry and whipped cream toppings.

Score: 7.3

Beef Burnt Ends

I could not stop eating these rich, smoky burnt brisket ends served on a bed of crispy, thin onion rings. 

Score: 5.8

Not So Thin Mint

This dessert is a mint-chocolate-chip lover's dream — crushed Andes crème de menthe candies formed into a patty, served on a stick and dipped in chocolate.

Score: 5.6

Honey Sriracha Cheese Sticks

Just because it scored the lowest doesn't mean it's not good. These crowd-pleasing mozzarella sticks with a honey-Sriracha breading are served with a trio of sauces: ranch, sweet chili glaze and more Sriracha for dipping. 

Score: 5

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Vote for your favorite!

Let us know which fair food you're most excited about in our poll below: One of the six — decided by fairgoers through the Iowa State Fair app — will stand alongside the All Iowa Belly Up Burger and the Apple Eggrolls (chosen Tuesday by the judges) in the coveted 2018 Iowa State Fair People’s Choice Best New Food contest.

And then don't forget to download the State Fair app (iPhone | Android) to cast your vote in the official contest to help name the fair's top new food of the year!

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