From the exotic outdoor markets of the Far East to the deep-fried meccas of America's state fairs, a wooden stick can be the vehicle for some of the most interesting food in the world. March 28 is Something on a Stick Day, and we're celebrating everything from the ingenious to the outrageous to the downright terrifying -- some of which comes pretty cheap and some of which could even be made at home.
If traditional candy apples aren't exciting enough, try dipping them in melted caramel and covering them with bacon bits -- a not-too-healthy but flavorful fan favorite at the Oklahoma State Fair.
Described as "sweet, salty, meaty, and cakey" by Flavor 574, which covers food culture in northern Indiana and southern Michigan, this $5 snack combines three important elements of state fair food: bacon, deep-frying, and sticks. Unlike a corn dog, which is fried in cornmeal, the bacon is fried in thick, sweet funnel-cake batter.
A Wisconsin State Fair treat evokes The King's favored peanut butter and banana sandwiches -- and his notorious weight gain. A Reese's peanut butter cup on a stick is dipped in banana batter, deep-fried, covered with chocolate sauce, and sprinkled with bacon.
Following in the footsteps of deep-fried Coke (yes, that's a thing) comes deep-fried coffee -- and not just any old coffee. A booth at the San Diego County Fair served up a treat made from ground Starbucks coffee, Foodbeast reported. Those tempted to try this at home might start with cheaper coffee.
For this dessert from the State Fair of Texas, milk and cookies are slow cooked into a custard, chilled, sliced, dipped in egg wash, covered with breadcrumbs, and, of course, deep-fried on a stick.
Starfish are not just for drying out and displaying in beach houses. At a night market in Beijing, crunchy, crispy, starfish on a stick cost less than $4 each.
For weird undersea creatures fried and served on sticks, why stop at starfish? The taste and texture of seahorse has been described as being like fishy bacon, or pork rinds with a kick.
Deep-fried butter balls have been a favorite heart attack on a stick at the State Fair of Texas since they won "Most Creative" at the 2009 Big Tex Choice Awards. To make, simply scoop out a globe of butter the size of a golf ball, roll it in sweet dough, and throw it in the fryer.
The ostrich is one of the fastest animals on Earth, but catch one and it cooks up really nice -- especially with teriyaki, according to a Twin Cities food blog. A contributor found the massive, flightless bird in bite-size chunks on a skewer, with a side of dipping sauce, at the 2013 Minnesota State Fair.
When calamari just isn't exotic enough, opt for ikayaki, Japanese grilled squid on a stick -- a full squid, tentacles only, or cut into rings. Sometimes called "squid pancakes," this delicacy usually runs up to 500 yen, or less than $5.
In China, the variety of foods that can be eaten on a stick apparently knows no bounds. Roasting and skewering pig snouts and tails does nothing to distort the unmistakeable Miss Piggy shape of the nose and curl of the tail.
At the Wisconsin State Fair, desserts include a brownie/cake concoction covered in pretzels and chocolate. It is, of course, deep-fried, and comes with caramel dipping sauce.
Fried pig intestines are big in Hong Kong; the Philippines, where the dish is called isaw; and Myanmar, where it can be found alongside pig lungs and pig tongues, also served on sticks -- part of the no-waste, head-to-tail philosophy of butchering common in much of the world.
This creation was a finalist in the 2016 Big Tex Choice Awards at the State Fair of Texas. It's made from a miniature beef patty stuffed with bacon, cheddar, and a beef hot dog, then skewered with a pickle, deep-fried in tempura batter, and served over shoestring fries.
A deep-fried slice of Spam on a stick has been featured at more than one fair over the years. A recipe posted on BigOven takes a different approach, using gelatin, water, popsicle molds, and a blender or food processor to create a "Spam slurry" that freezes into something resembling a Fudgsicle. Then again, maybe this isn't something you'd want to try at home.