7 Most Unhealthy Carnival Foods

There are few things in the universe more evil than carnival food. Why do they feed us deep-fried sugary food before we get on rides that spin us around and around? Why is it that carnies aren’t all 500 lbs.? Must be the meth. Check out Newsweek’s list of the 7 most unhealthy carnival foods.

7. Cotton Candy
One large cone of spun sugar is 200 calories. It’s practically health food.

6. Snow Cones
The sugary syrup used is 100 calories an ounce. A 12 oz. snow cone will end up being 550 calories, depending on how syrup-heavy you take it.

5. Corn Dogs
a.k.a the “nitratesicle” contains 375 calories and 21 grams of fat and 1170 mg. of sodium.

4. Deep Fried Twinkie
One deep fried Twinkie contains 420 calories and 32 grams of fat. That doesn’t include any sugar or jelly topping.

3. Deep Fried Oreos
Each cookie contains 157 calories and 10.1 grams of fat.

2. Funnel Cake
An 8.3 oz. cake contains 760 calories, 44 grams of fat, 80 grams of carbs and 20 mg. of cholesterol.

1. Deep Fried Candy Bars
Everything from Snickers, Mars, Milkyway and 3 Musketeers is deep-fried and slapped on a stick. A king-size, deep-fried bar has over 700 calories and 44 grams of fat.

It’s a good thing you will be spending the day walking. What’s your favorite decadent carnival food?

Most Unhealthy Carnival Foods [Newsweek]
(Photo: amyadoyzie)


Edit Your Comment

  1. You can have my funnel cake when you pry it from my dead, greasy, fat fingers. Then you can fry the fingers for a tasty treat.

  2. Ewwww why would anyone subject themselves to eating out of a diseased and unsanitary food trailer? Besides carnies scare me small hands, smell like cabbage

  3. alfundo says:

    mmmmm, fried oreos are the only reason i visit a carnie.

  4. 44 in a Row says:

    I’ll have one of each, please.

  5. mgy says:

    @tawni: Because, funnel cakes. That is all.

  6. MayorBee says:

    Oh, sure, they’re unhealthy. But you can’t really count all those calories, fats, and cholesterol after you throw up from the Gravitron or that damn Viking ship that goes upside down. Or, my personal favorite, the Crazy Dance (as featured in Problem Child 2).

  7. digitalhen says:

    My favourite carnival / festival food are the doughnuts, they taste so good!!

    And firefox, just because i’m in the USA, it doesn’t mean ‘favourite’ is spelt wrong :P

  8. Deep fried candy bars image is used twice in this post.

  9. chucklebuck says:

    best carnival food I ever had was a cheese-filled sausage wrapped in bacon, battered, on a stick, deep-fried. I don’t care how terrible it was for me, I’d eat another one right now if it was in front of me.

  10. The best part about carnival food is the rat droppings! They’re not a dominant flavor, but they’re in just about everything.

  11. Skankingmike says:

    you forgot Fried dough. also a staple of the carnival.

  12. Am I the only person, who while eating funnel cakes, that inhales and gets powdered sugar in the back of my throat/windpipe area, and ends up coughing?

    Swear that happens every time I eat those.

  13. morganlh85 says:

    Fried oreos are sooo good, but you can feel your heart slow down after eating one.

  14. MissPeacock says:

    Chili cheese fries!! Chili cheese fries!! Chili cheese fries!!

  15. Grabraham says:

    carnie Clamcakes FTW

  16. Pasketti says:

    I like the whole food-on-a-stick paradigm.

  17. meepmeep says:

    eating funnel cake/zeppoles always makes me look like I just came out a huge coke binge.

  18. rmz says:
  19. skatastrophe says:

    try the texas state fair. fried coke, fried snickers, fried cheesecake. all the fatasses from houston go up for it every year.

  20. IndyJaws says:

    I’ll take a grilled Italian Sausage with peppers and onions and raise you an Elephant Ear.

  21. ElizabethD says:

    Here in New England at the carnivals and festivals, we chow down on fried dough, clamcakes (basically deep-fried dough balls with clam bits in them), and malasadas — Portuguese fried dough pastries covered in sugar.

    Gawd, I love all that stuff!

  22. Narockstar says:

    Fried Cheese Curds. I’m originally from Wisconsin. I haven’t had good carnival ones in years, but I can still taste them.

  23. Anonymous says:

    There’s something that I’ve only seen at the Texas State Fair: the BBQ baloney sandwich. The booth is run by an African-American gentleman from South Dallas who smokes a whole baloney as he’s BBQing his brisket, ribs, etc… Then it’s sliced and served on plain white bread with spicy BBQ sauce and mustard.

    Mmmmm MMMMM!

  24. ElizabethD says:

    Oops, forgot chourico and pepper “grinders” (sub, hoagie). Chourico is Portuguese spicy sausage, pronounced roughly “sha-reesse.” Good and greasy!

  25. Shappie says:

    Fried Cheesecake on a stick. Best ever at the Iowa State Fair. …as long as you don’t think about how bad it is for you.

  26. AceKicker says:

    Fried Oreos are absolutely fantastic, pretty easy to make at home, plus as great as they are, after one or two your body doesn’t feel like it needs anymore. Perfect contentment.

    @ElizabethD: New England Represent! :D

  27. I never got a chance to try it, but if I was feeling adventurous, I would totally try the Krispy Kreme Burger:


  28. redpeppers20xx says:

    I hate these articles. Carnival’s are a summer time treat…it’s assumed you don’t eat this crap all year long and that when you go to a carnival you get one or two of these items..not 7. Yes Mr. Carnival man,I would like one iced water and one lettuce and tomatoe wrap…I mean,get real. Of course this crap is bad..but it’s a once or twice a summer deal. If it isn’t fat and grease then it’s chemicals…everything we consume is garbage at this point.

  29. AaronZ says:

    @Pasketti: “I like the whole food-on-a-stick paradigm.”

    Agreed!! Everything is better on a stick!
    At ren-faire I get “steak on a stake.” “Speak your own Pickle.” (stop giggling.)
    Hell, even cheesecake, dipped in chocolate.. (wait for it..) On a STICK!

    The only thing I don’t get on a stick is the soup breadbowl. Only because I can’t figure out the logistics of that … yet.

  30. Chairman-Meow says:

    Dammit…all that heart-stopping food made me hungry!

    Now I’m Jones’n for a Fried Dough and a Sausage Sub with onions n’ peppers.

    @ElizabethD: Ever been to the Portugues feast down in New Bedford ?

    (Malasadas & Maderia wine go really good together)

  31. timmus says:

    I’m sorry, no way can a funnel cake ONLY be 760 calories. That has so much oil and flour. Equivalent to 3 candy bars… I seriously doubt it. Maybe they’re using portions that are much smaller than typically found at carnivals.

  32. Darren W. says:

    mmm… Just a few minutes to lunch time!

  33. coan_net says:

    That is the great thing about carnivals – the special food that you only eat maybe once or twice a year….. when at a carnival!

    Who cares how bad it is for you – a splurge every once and awhile is yummy……..

  34. BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

    @Jay – Should be 20 milligrams of cholesterol, not 20 grams. I think if you ate 20 grams of cholesterol in one sitting, you would have an instant heart attack.

  35. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Mmmm, Twinkies.
    In WALL-E the robot unwraps a 700 year old Twinkie and it’s still fresh. He gives it to his cockroach friend who happliy crawls inside. Somehow I doubt that Twinkie paid for that product placement.

  36. Jay Slatkin says:

    @BloggyMcBlogBlog: Oops, thanks.

  37. Jabberkaty says:

    Woo hoo! Gian sausage sandwiches didn’t make the list! Or French Fries!

    I love the freakin’ carnival food! Carnie mitts make it taste better. Of course it’s bad for you! That’s why you go on the tilt-a-whirl right after….

    I want to go to the fair.

  38. Jabberkaty says:

    Er. Gian=Giant

    Must go slower.

  39. skitzogreg says:

    God Bless America.

  40. zentex says:

    @Ash78: oh crap! I lol’d

  41. theblackdog says:

    @IfThenElvis: Too bad that doesn’t work in real life…the Twinkies dry out, so you have a nice twinkie paperweight.

  42. battra92 says:

    I used to love Maple snow cones. Shaved ice covered with Maple Syrup == YUM!

  43. theblackdog says:

    Because funnel cakes are the best.

    My favorite is to get a gyro and then finish it off with a snowball (hawaiian shaved ice or snow cone to those outside of MD)

  44. Khaotix says:


    what in the world is “a whole baloney”?

    If you’re talking about a Bologna sausage then … that’s horrible. haha. Bologna is made with the worst scraps of various animal parts … Rather have a Beerwurst any day :D

    @Skankingmike: eh, funnel cake is very similar, just a unleavened fried dough. been places where it *is* fried dough, but for some reason they call it funnel cake still. Carnie food names vary a lot place to place, but it’s mostly the same stuff.

  45. zentex says:


    …a hamburger topped with sharp cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon — all between a “bun” made of a sliced Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut…calorie counters predict the monster will set you back about 1,000 calories and 45 grams of fat.

    hells yea! I know what I’ll be making this 4th of july!!

  46. Myrddraal says:

    If the “health” food craze ever hits carnivals I think I might just snap and kill some people. Seriously don’t mess with my deep fried edibles on sticks… or one of those sticks just might get you in the eye.

  47. PicketFence says:

    There is actually a tiny cafe in my area called, “Midway.” All the fun fair food (year-round!) without the questionable service/food safety.

  48. Khaotix says:


    yea, that’s better known as a Luther Burger

    If you go out for dim sum they normally offer a pork bun that has a sugary coating on the outside. you get the same kind of sweet/savory flavors as the luther burger. one of my favorites to have now and then :)

  49. mtarget says:

    Deep fried pickles, and the deep fried PB&J. Thats Good Eats.

  50. for the record, it is totally the meth.

  51. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    @Dead Wrestlers Society: Happens to me too.

  52. dorianh49 says:

    I’m surprised that they didn’t mention deep-fried PedEgg shavings. Scrumptious!

  53. Tallanvor says:

    I loved elephant ears when I was a kid. And grilled corn on the cob is great!

    Whether or not the food is “unsanitary”, well, it might be, but then again, I’ve never gotten sick from it, and neither has anyone I know, so it can’t be that bad. One way or another eating carnival food once a year isn’t likely to kill you.

  54. 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    Anyone else notice that items 1-5 are all fried :)

  55. Kitteridge says:

    It might be nice to have some variety at a carnival (that involved vegetables or fruit) but half of the point of going to a carnival is to eat the crap there. Woo-hoo on the funnel cake!!

  56. Mr_Human says:

    I’m just glad bloomin’ onions aren’t on this list

  57. boss_lady says:

    Yeah, Kettle Corn came out unscathed!

    Deep fried Oreos, Twinkies, and chocolate bars? Only in America.

  58. catskyfire says:

    I get a funnel cake to share with someone. One is too much for me at once. I usually get a snow cone as well. And cotton candy is just fun.

    For some of it, I’ve learned to do it at home. I’ve a funnel cake recipe that tastes pretty good. I bought an ice shaver one year after the season wound down, and mix up my own syrup. Usually less sugar (could even do sugar free if I wanted) and I never end up with too little syrup.

  59. mthrndr says:

    My favorite is shriner’s bbq chicken. That shit is tasty as hell, and probably not too bad for you.

  60. rmz says:

    @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: Carnival food? Fried? I won’t believe it.

  61. SJActress says:

    Carnival french fries with about four gallons of vinegar…I can’t believe no one has mentioned these yet!


  62. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    You know, as long as you only eat these in moderation, it’s not like it’s a bid deal that they are bad for you. So you eat the occasional funnel cake or an occasional 3000 calorie fast food burger. Exercise a little more or eat a little less for your next meal. It’s not rocket science.

  63. Growing up I used to enjoy this unique treat that I’ve only seen at the Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman, MT called a Taterdog. Basically it’s a baked potato cut partially in half lengthwise with a kielbasa or hotdog placed inside. What it’s garnished with is up to the imagination, but my personal favorite is slices of bacon, gobs of sour cream, chives, and a healthy fistful of cheddar cheese. Good times.

  64. DojiStar says:

    Woah, woah, woah….

    Since when is anything deep fried bad for you???

    Show me one ounce of evidence that deep frying anything is bad for you!!!

  65. stevegoz says:

    I prefer to think of these as the 7 least healthy carnival foods.

  66. Myrddraal says:

    @dorianh49: A little powdered sugar on there and you’ve got some good eats!

  67. Youthier says:

    Corn dogs! There is one stand at our county fair with corn dogs for $1.25. As a kid, I used to eat there every day of the fair. I also like that super sugary lemonade and an elephant ear.

    The deep fried stuff… it’s good but most people I know are splitting into between two or three people. It’s just a little too heavy, particularly if you’re walking around in 80 degree weather all day.

  68. Doug Nelson says:

    How intelligent could a design be that makes us crave and seek out the very worst possible things to eat?

  69. stubar says:

    @boss_lady: Only in America? Have you SEEN how much shit they fry in Scotland? Pretty sure that’s where the idea of a fried candy bar came from (and wikipedia confirms). And from what I’ve heard, that’s only the beginning.

  70. Youthier says:

    @Myrddraal: Taste of Chicago forced all those applying for a booth to supply one “healthy” alternative.

    They were sort of lenient about it… one of the cheesecake places had plain cheesecake as their healthy option and some places apparently have gotten away with deep-frying veggies other than potatoes and classifying that as healthy.

    If you’re looking to eat healthy, a carnival/festival/fair is not the place to do that. Sorry.

  71. ret3 says:

    Roasted Corn soaked in butter, sprinkled with chili & lime.
    Spicy cajun fried turkey leg.
    That is all.

  72. cjones27 says:

    Fletcher’s Corn Dogs at the Texas State Fair. Just introduced a jalapeno cheese version that is artery-clogging delicious.

  73. Brain.wav says:

    Deep fried oreos and candy bars? WTF?

    I love me some funnel cake though.

  74. FrankTheTank says:

    Wait, why is Cotton Candy so bad?
    That’s 200 calories with no fat, usually shared among 2-4 people.

    Certainly no nutritional value, but that could be said for ALOT of things we eat.

  75. Jabberkaty says:

    @brainwav: I was not a believer in the deep fried candy bar – and then I saw it at a local restaurant and thought ‘what the hell…’ I’ve never looked back.

    I mean, it’s all gooey and melty in all the right ways. God, I want one now…

  76. allstarecho says:

    I can personally attest that you haven’t lived, and won’t live long, if you’ve never had a battered and deep fried Oreo or Snickers bar! Yummmm yummm!!

  77. ByeBye says:

    No funnel cakes?
    It’s fried sweet bread with powered sugar on it.

  78. no.no.notorious says:

    @Skankingmike: funnel cake IS fried dough

    absolutely delicious

  79. Carl3000 says:

    Good lord who could eat an entire king sized deep fried chocolate bar?? I always thought people just got little pieces deep fried, or just 1 oreo or something.

  80. Jabberkaty says:

    I always share – and I didn’t get king-sized, it was regular sized.

  81. no.no.notorious says:

    @Myrddraal: thats what the tempura veggies are for…for all those “health nuts” ;)

    I worked at a pita stand and the good ol’ dutchess county fair for three years and it was the best time of my life. the people were australian and they kept everything incredibly clean. it was also my first experience running into low/no carb freaks. they freaked since we didn’t have paper plates instead of pita bread, even though they could have just not eaten the pita bread. it was touching, so their diet was completely ruined.

    if you think the workers are bad, how do you think we feel about customers?

  82. somuch says:

    too lazy to do the math, but I’m doubting the 100 calorie per ounce thing on the snow cone. I’ll start you’all off:
    sugar has 15 calories per teaspoon…
    or this, a can of coke has 100 calories for 12 oz. So this snow cone is 5 times as sweet as coke?

    I don’t believe it.

  83. @tawni: yeah, I don’t think you’ve ever had a funnel cake. I think carnie food is gross, but … funnel cake!

  84. WakefulD says:

    Goddammit, Consumerist – I only get one funnel cake a year! Don’t ruin it for me, with all your FACTS and FIGURES.

  85. Gopher bond says:

    Fried coke is good. Basically a coke-flavored funnel cake.

  86. sethom says:

    What about Australian Battered Potatoes? mmmm

    Fried Avocado?

    The corn tasted funny this year…more rat droppings? Or is all the corn underwater this year?

  87. Myrddraal says:

    @Youthier: Burger King should open a stand at that carnival in Chicago and sell nothing but battered and deep fried triple whoppers with cheese and bacon… on a stick. All the calories for the year in one serving, plus it’s got lettuce so it’s good for you, right?

  88. Myrddraal says:

    @sethom: Corn isn’t even close to in season yet. If you got corn this early it wasn’t grown in the northern hemisphere.

  89. theblackdog says:

    I think a previous xkcd is so appropriate, especially for those who want to have the krispy kreme burger ;-)

  90. Wally East says:

    @IndyJaws: I like the way you think.

  91. themaskedmarauder says:

    Yum! Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and FUNNEL CAKES! (Old Chevy commercial). You remember Chevy vehicles – gas burners of olde!

  92. boss_lady says:

    @stubar: Okay, okay- chill. My bad. But please don’t tell me that deep-friend Twinkies originated anywhere but America.

  93. Jackasimov says:

    @tawni: because deep fried cheese curds taste good. Chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick tastes good.

  94. Eels says:

    God I love a corn dog. I am so unashamed of it. Nitrates, pig lips, whatever. It is so delicious.

    With a buttery, cinnamon sugar-y fried dough for dessert. Mmm. I can feel the pimples forming already.

  95. Cap'n Jack says:

    Deep fried foods are bad for me? Who knew??

  96. floyderdc says:

    First I would take the girl in the pic to the fair any day. :)

    Second I second the notion that these articles are stupid. Fair food is supposed to be bad for you. Eat it once a year and have fun. This health craze is really getting old

  97. I wear my fat pants to all carnivals!!!!

  98. TechnoDestructo says:


    Hey, this information could be useful for carnival folk.

  99. mikelotus says:

    carnival and healthy is an oxymoron

  100. erratapage says:

    wait… cheese curds didn’t make it on the list! That means I can eat all I want! Yay!

  101. ironchef says:

    gotta love American diets.

  102. ElizabethD says:

    Yes, I was born in New Bedford … been to the Portuguese Feast there several times!

  103. trustsatan says:

    Fried dough is known as “pizza frite” in Upstate NY, proud home of the NYS fair. The NY state fair is also the home of the rather inelegantly named “wine slushie”, which has to compete for most horrific carnival beverage, if it applies to this thread.

    Just think: an Icee/Slurpee/Squishee-type beverage made out of cheap table wine, with some sugar added and the bonus of being able to select whether you would like to drink it from an oversized novelty neon-pink or neon-green cup.

  104. BytheSea says:

    *moan* Oh, funnel cake. I used to get it every year when the elementary school up the street had their carnival. They cut back their budget a few years ago and I’ve been fried drippy pancake-less ever since!

    I used to get cotton candy on the boardwalk too, that stuff is still wonderful. Also caramel corn from that place that Ocean City is famous for, and salt water taffy, and gummy coke bottles from the penny candy store.

  105. luz says:

    This article sort of turned me on.

  106. trujunglist says:

    I like Indian Fry Bread. It’s kind of like a funnel cake, but way way better. Drizzle some honey and powdered sugar, or you can eat it with beans and meats and rice like a taco. Either way, it’s fucking fabulous! I haven’t had one since I was like 14 when I went to ‘Tucson Meet Yourself’

  107. Android8675 says:

    never got any of that stuff growing up, my nieces don’t get it either, I honestly think that I enjoy that kind of stuff more now is because I was denied it so often as a kid. I don’t think I was ever a brat a bout it, but I usually had to ask at least once per trip to the fair.

    Now, I’d say Cotten Candy is fun, but I usually don’t get it unless someone else is gonna help. I love fried seafood now which I never liked growing up, Calimari, crab, etc. (Yes, santa cruz county fair or any seaside fair has this stuff).

  108. HeartBurnKid says:
  109. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I wonder if I could get a deep-friend Twinkie with bacon?

    (Seriously, who goes to a carnival to eat healthy? If the food doesn’t get you, the 30-year old Tilt-O-Whirl held together by drywall screws might!)

  110. HeartBurnKid says:

    @Grrrrrrrrr: Skip the middleman; have deep fried bacon.

  111. Teapotfox says:

    Funnel cakes are my all-time favourite, but close behind we have fries with salt and loads of vinegar, as well as the impossibly thick and creamy chocolate milkshakes made by 4-H club or band booster parents during the local farm show.

  112. SkyeBlue says:

    Oh stop worrying and eat whatever you want when the carnival comes to town. The phosphoric acid in the soda you’ll be drinking should corrode almost all the rat droppings, fat and sugar in whatever mystery food you are partaking of.

  113. parvax says:

    Pierogies with butter, sour cream, and a generous shaking of salt. Nom nom nom.

  114. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @HeartBurnKid: Mmmmmm….deep-fried bacon…..*drools like Homer Simpson*

    Fortunately, they have bacon chocolate bars:


  115. iamlesliegirl says:

    Biscuits filled with butter and cane syrup a courtesy of the MS dept of agriculture, deep fried chicken, potato, pickles and onions ON. A. STICK. sourdough cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing.

    Thank you Mississippi State Fair!

  116. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:
  117. rainrunner87 says:

    Funnel cakes, when considered geometrically, can be forced to resolve to a value of 42, thus making them the Answer.

  118. arcticJKL says:

    Ditto, I’ll take one of each too.

    Last fair my wife and I went to we went just for the fried food.

  119. mdoublej says:


    Don’t be hating the NYS fair wine slushies! They’re refreshing on a hot day, and a happy buzz. Only problem is now you can’t take them out of the small “wine area”, unlike years past when you could roam all over the fair with them in the oversized neon cups.

  120. No Fail Carnival Diet Plan:

    1. Eat unhealthy carnival food.
    2. Ride “Spin Out” (the one where the floor drops and you stick to the wall)
    3. Throw up.

    Shower, Rinse, Repeat.

  121. Skankingmike says:

    @no.no.notorious: yea i know i was being a smart ass.

    My wife is from CT I’m a Jersey boy so when I went up there to craft show or something with her and saw fried dough and they put red sauce on it.. i almost passed out. :P

    I’m a Pen dutch Funnel Cake kind of guy myself.

  122. spudaroo says:

    Fair Food is Fun Fare.

    This was my scrolling screensaver for years while I worked with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. No food pyramids there. Lunch time was a slow motion stampede for the roach coach. Happy public servants lined up waiting for their savory fried delights. The place smelled like butt and rendered fat about 90 minutes after lunch. I now work in a place which has windows which are not sealed shut.

  123. WEGGLES90 says:

    Where do elephant ears rank? Deepfried cake covered in sugar CAN’T be good for you.

  124. ShariC says:

    I’ve never had any of that deep-fried stuff (Twinkies, Oreos, etc.). My favorite was always sno-cones, but I haven’t had them since they increased the size obviously. Last time I had one, it was served in a smallish paper cone deal.

  125. PinkBox says:

    Since carnivals tend to only come ’round once a year, I’ll gladly eat their 700+ calorie funnel cake every time.

  126. Japheaux says:

    What….the ‘cup ‘o pizza’ isn’t on the list?

    The worst thing I ever ate at a carnival was the bearded lady.

  127. radiochief says:

    @ElizabethD: NE represent? More like RI represent… Drink down those treats with a coffee cabinet.