There’s nothing like the sweet sizzle of grease during fair week.
It’s long been a trend at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair to stick just about anything into the deep fryer, and options have gotten stranger every year. Past selections have ranged from Oreos and candy bars to butter and bacon.
Under an inconspicuous awning for elephant ears, after an hour-long search on Food Row, this year’s most mysterious greasy concoction was finally revealed: deep-fried Gatorade.
A dish of the fist-sized dough balls rolled in powdered sugar, four for $5, looks innocent enough. The sports drink powder, in Frost Glacier Freeze flavor, is mixed with batter before cooking, then dropped into the fryer with an ice cream scoop.
The surprise comes after a bite: crispy on the outside, light green on the inside with a blueberry taste. It’s a lot of dough — imagine a giant cake ball or a Hush Puppy — and sweet, but not as greasy as one might think.
Pacifico Elephant Ears, run by Meatball Factory in Cape Coral, Fla., is the company behind the fried Gatorade. Pacifico has been at the Elkhart’s 4-H Fair for more than 40 years, but the idea, said owner and operator Aaron Pacifico, was new this year, and came from fair president Tim Yoder.
“This is our first go-around with Gatorade,” Pacifico said. “We’ve done Kool Aid other years and [Yoder] thought it would be a good idea, so we tried it.”
Pacifico calls the treat “refreshing.”
Flavor 574’s verdict? It’s fun to try for the thrill, but without the filling of a candy bar or veggie, the flavored dough makes for some heavy breading.
If you want the latest fried trend, you can find Pacifico Elephant Ears by Hollyhock Boulevard near the Ferris Wheel.