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The definitive word on the State Fair’s best — and worst — new foods

The rainbow cloud roll
Minnesota State Fair
The rainbow cloud roll contains three scoops of ice cream sprinkled with fruity cereal and wrapped in a pillow of cotton candy.

You'd have to be some kind of off-the-grid tinfoil hat person to not know that the State Fair — and the requisite wall-to-wall coverage of everything you can shove into your maw there — has begun.

On opening day Thursday, food critics from Twin Cities news outlets fanned out across the fair to try the new foods listed on the fair website, from pepperoni chips with roasted red pepper queso to a zesty PB&J sausage (An observation: no new foods on a stick except a salmon waffle, nominally. Is that fad over?)

To save you the trouble of reading so much fair coverage, we fanned out across the Internet to bring you a meta-review based on the reviews of critics from the Star Tribune, City Pages, Mpls.St. Paul Magazine and KARE 11.

Bookmark this page for reference as you fight your way down Dan Patch Avenue looking for your next fair fare. The foods are listed from most universally popular to least.

(Note, these are MinnPosters’ interpretations of reviews, which weren’t always a straight thumbs-up or thumbs-down. When there were multiple reviewers, we tried to average their takes.)

FoodVendorStar TribuneCity PagesMpls. St. PaulKare 11
Rainbow cloud rollRainbow Ice CreamPositivePositivePositivePositive
Sweetie cakesSweetie CakesPositivePositivePositivePositive
Wood-grilled eloteTejas ExpressPositivePositivePositivePositive
Mangonada shave iceMinnesnowii Shave IcePositivePositivePositive
UpNorth puff pastySausage Sister & MePositivePositivePositive
General Tso chicken tacoMidtown Global Market's Taco CatPositivePositivePositive
Nordic wafflesNordic WafflesPositivePositiveNeutralPositive
Blueberry rhubarb cobblerFarmers Union Coffee ShopPositivePositiveNeutralPositive
Swedish meatball smörgåsThe Blue BarnPositiveNegativePositivePositive
Bananas foster French toastHamline Church Dining HallPositiveNeutralPositive
Turducken sausage sandwichGiggles' Campfire GrillPositiveNeutralPositiveNeutral
Earth WingsFrench Meadow Bakery and CafePositiveNegativeNeutralPositive
Smoked soft serve ice creamBlue Moon Dine-In TheaterNeutralPositiveNeutralNeutral
Messy GiuseppeMancini's al FrescoNeutralNegativePositiveNeutral
Sweet Greek cheese puffsDino's GyrosNegativePositiveNeutralNeutral
Za-waffle sticksGreen MillNeutralNeutralNegativePositive
Irish tater kegsO'Gara's at the FairNegativeNegativeNeutralPositive
Pepperoni chips with roasted red pepper quesoLulu's Public HousePositiveNegativeNeutralNegative
Slider flightsThe HangarNeutralNeutralNeutral
Honey cream soda floatMinnesota honey producersNeutralNegativeNeutral
Zesty PB&J sausageGass Station GrillNegativeNeutralNeutral
Shrimp cevicheShrimp ShackNeutralNeutralNegativeNeutral
Firecracker shrimp stuffed avocadoThe Hideaway SpeakeasyNeutralNegativeNegative
Moroccan sausage bowlSausage by CynthiaNegativeNeutralNegative
Triple chocolate strawberry shortcakeThe Strawberry PatchNeutralNegativeNegative
Ahi tuna poke bowlCafe CaribeNeutralNegativeNegativeNegative

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 08/24/2018 - 08:04 pm.

    It is no wonder..

    that obesity and its comorbidities (diabetes, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea) are increasing at breakneck speed in this state.

  2. Submitted by Jeremy Pierotti on 08/25/2018 - 11:13 am.

    Journalism at its best

    Thank you MinnPost for synthesizing the news that matters most to Minnesotans. This is surely one story Senator Klobuchar can’t make fun of at her next MinnRoast appearence.

  3. Submitted by Jack Lint on 08/25/2018 - 11:47 am.

    Spent too much time reading these State Fair food tweets

    I’m not convinced Rick Nelson at the Strib was positive on the Rainbow Cloud Roll. “Hilarious, very state fair, and toothache-inducing.” I guess if that’s what you’re into. Dara Grumdahl hated it, describing it as a loaf of squashed cotton candy.

    Rick, Dara, and Jason DeRusha were all big fans of the grilled peach with goat cheese at the Produce Exchange and Birchwood’s BLT at the Minnesota Famers Union.

  4. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 08/28/2018 - 01:59 pm.


    4 positives for “three scoops of ice cream sprinkled with fruity cereal and wrapped in a pillow of cotton candy”. What’s next, 2 Michelin stars for Perkins?

    I’m hoping commenter Jack Lint is correct.

  5. Submitted by Elizabeth Psihos on 08/28/2018 - 04:16 pm.

    Jack’s Right

    In further comments, the Strib’s Rick Nelson called the Rainbow Cloud Roll “borderline inedible”. However, I challenge anyone who hasn’t given it a go to try it before poo-pooing. I will admit to having quite a sweet tooth, but the Rainbow Cloud Roll was absolutely the best thing I had at the Fair. I thought it would be one bite of a sugar blast and then in the trash, but it was so wonderfully surprising, from the instant the cotton candy melted in my mouth followed by the crunchy cereal ending with the creamy ice cream. I probably shouldn’t admit I ate the entire thing and loved every bite! (And, didn’t feel sick afterwards.)

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