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Foodbeast Guide To 2018’s OC Fair Food

While I shed a tear for the beach bod I never really got this summer, I take solace in the fact that it’s fair season and I can just try again in the fall.

Yes, that means we’re ready to be buried in fried foods, sweets, and snacks, not unlike that kid from Kazaam.

On Friday, June 13, the Orange County Fair opened its gates to the public and we eagerly high-tailed it into the fairgrounds.

Returning are some all-star vendors like Chicken Charlie’s and Biggy’s — the Deep Fry King and Sultan of Turkey Legs, respectively, and they’ve added a handful of new items that had us wiping drool from our chins.

Check out all the new foods and returning favorites served that this year’s OC Fair. Just be sure to leave some time between snacking, for rides and games.

Deep Fried Filet Mignon (Chicken Charlie’s)

Photo: Peter Pham

This year’s star dish from Chicken Charlie’s booth is the deep fried filet mignon. Hulked out medallions are skewered together, breaded, and deep fried. Imagine eating chicken fried steak on a stick, because that’s essentially what this is. Just wish we had some sausage gravy to dunk those steaks in. Next year, Charlie.

Caramel Crack Fries (Biggy’s)

Photo: Peter Pham

I’ve always been a fan of the marriage between sweet and salty. Give me some kettle corn or a maple bacon donut and I’m a happy dude. Biggy’s new Caramel Crack Fries is a stunning example of sweet and salty that combines salty cinnamon sugar fries, a generous drizzle of caramel, whipped cream, and Fruity Pebbles cereal.

Deep Fried Pineapple (Chicken Charlie’s)

Many feel pineapple doesn’t belong on a pizza, but no one said you can’t deep fry it. Chicken Charlie’s is offering freshly sliced pineapples that are plunged into Charlie’s special pancake batter and dunked in a vat of hot oil — the origins of a delicious fruit-themed superhero.

Lasagna Nachos (Pignotti’s)

Photo: OC Fair

Looks like lasagna nachos are slowly making it into the mainstream and I’m totally on board with it. Pignotti’s version takes deep-fried pieces of lasagna noodles and douses them in a bed of rich marinara sauce before being introduced to a second friend…Mister Cheese Blanket.

Spicy Turkey Leg (Biggy’s)

Photo: Peter Pham

Hardcore carnivores will likely go straight for the massive turkey legs found at Biggy’s. This year, they’re trying something a little spicier with a Cholula hot sauce variation of the classic turkey leg. Don’t worry, you’ll still get the same smokiness and girth as a regular leg, just with a extra helping of heat.

Mermaid Floats (Candy Factory)

Photo: Peter Pham

Between all the salty meats and the scorching summer heat, you’ll probably want to track down something sweet and refreshing to cool off with. Candy Factory has a smorgasbord of floats named after mythical creatures, such as the Unicorn and Mermaid Floats. These multi-colored refreshers feature a sweet soda sprinkled stacked with rainbow toppings and a heap of cotton candy.

Ramen Burritos (Chicken Charlie’s)

Photo: Peter Pham

Another new addition to Chicken Charlie’s lineup are these chicken and shrimp ramen burritos. Ramen noodles and Funyuns are joined with Charlie’s savory grilled chicken or shrimp in a warm tortilla, offering a trio of textures. Charlie tosses the noodles in his famous House Maui sauce and some Sriracha for a gentle hit of flavor.

Spaghetti Donuts (Pignotti’s)

Photo: OC Fair

I never knew spaghetti could be enjoyed without utensils until I saw Pignotti’s spaghetti donuts. The noodles are formed using a donut mold and tossed into the deep fryer with the love of an Italian grandparent. Instead of glaze, they’re topped with traditional pasta sauces — pesto, Alfredo, carbonara, or marinara.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Belly (Biggy’s)

Photo: Oscar Gonzalez

It’s not really a trip to the fair without some bacon. Biggy’s bacon-wrapped pork belly serves guests a skewer full of bacon inception. The crispy cured strips are wrapped around hunks of tender Duroc pork belly and slow roasted. Bacon lovers will definitely want to zero in on this item.

If that’s not enough to whet your whistle, here’s everything else you need to keep an eye out for at this year’s OC Fair:

  • Ice Cream Tacos (Bacon A Fair)
  • Truffle Tots (Tater Twister)
  • Mac and Cheese Tots (Tater Twister)
  • Cheeseburger Tacos (Juicy’s)
  • Gouda Wontons (Pignotti’s)
  • Gouda Nachos (Pignotti’s)
  • Dipped Ice Cream Sandwiches (Totally Baked Cookie Joint)
  • Big Skillet Cookie (Totally Baked Cookie Joint)
  • Bubble Waffle Cone Sundae (Fried Affair 2)
  • PBJ Sriracha Funnel Cake (Dutchman’s Funeral Cake)
  • Deep Fried Cheese Curds (Tasti Burger)
  • Chili Chamoy Candy Capple (Brander Candyland)
  • M&M Donut (Texas Donuts)
  • Unicorn Cotton Candy Donut (Texas Donuts)
  • Holy Coa’s Boba Tea (Pignotti’s)
  • Poke Bowls (Eddie’s)
#foodbeast Culture Features FOODBEAST

This Man Revolutionized Fried Food With An OREO

It’s opening day of the OC Fair, and Charlie Boghosian is being pulled into so many different directions, it’s a surprise his limbs haven’t fallen off. His phone is ringing off the hook, as every local morning news program covering the fair wants a piece of his new deep-fried goodies. As he walks toward his newest “Pineapple Express” stand to see what’s going on in the kitchen, his family arrives at the fair. His oldest daughter Abby, 6, passes by, realizes it’s him and yells, “Daddy!”

It’s total chaos as summer fair season kicks off in Southern California, and as is the case every year for the last 20+ years, “Chicken Charlie” is the man of the hour, every hour.

“Let’s take this into my office,” Boghosian tells me, as the attention storm seemingly passes and he finally gets a chance to breathe and give his wife and four children proper hugs.

His office is a trailer behind one of his four food stands within the Orange County Fairgrounds. Before we go inside, we walk by a graveyard of pineapple boxes, easily in the hundreds, as he debuts a deep-fried pineapple on a stick, to accompany his classic hollowed out pineapple bowls.

Photo courtesy of Charlie Boghosian

With beads of sweat dripping from his brow, the 95-degree Southern California heat was in full effect, but still not stopping the hottest summertime commodity.

Boghosian is living the classic American dream: At the tender age of 11, his family immigrated to the U.S. from Syria, with dreams of working toward a better life. Boghosian took those dreams into a new dimension, however, creating a name for himself as the “Fry King,” and bringing off-kilter concepts into the mainstream, paving the way for the mind-blowing fried fair foods that have now become commonplace.

Charlie and his father atop the World Trade Center on their first day in the U.S./Photo courtesy of Charlie Boghosian

Make no mistake, that very American Dream that Charlie is living, has been molded by the fair.

Before foods such as fried Kool-Aid or bacon-wrapped pickles launched him into stardom, Boghosian was a kid who just wanted to get out of the routine of working at his dad’s San Diego grocery store.

“I saw an ad for the [San Diego County] fair, Del Mar Fair at the time,” Boghosian recalls. “I said, ‘Hey, Dad, can I go get a job at the fair? We can call it my vacation.'”

His dad gave him permission, and Boghosian worked the 1984 summer with a fair vendor by the name of Robert Jackson, who sold charbroiled corn at the Del Mar Fair and showed him the ropes.

What was supposed to be a break from monotony for Boghosian, turned into 12 straight summers of working the fair with Jackson.

With two criminal justice degrees in hand from San Diego State University, Boghosian was done with school. But instead of joining the force like he originally planned, he knew his true passion was making people smile with the power of food.

Deep-Fried Filet Mignon/Photo by Peter Pham/Foodbeast

The inspiration for his fried foods can come from anywhere, whether it’s strolling through the supermarket or sitting at a drive-thru. However, there are times that Boghoshian’s innovation comes, literally, from home.

Charlie and his wife Dawn Boghosian will take a couple of days out of the year to gather friends and family for what they call “Fry Fests.” The Fry Fests are a free-for-all at their San Diego home, and some items even make it onto the fair menu, like the iconic deep-fried Kool-Aid.

“They’re fun, crazy and a whole lot of mess, but all worth it,” Dawn Boghosian said of the backyard Fry Fests. “We invite whoever wants to be part of our shenanigans—family, friends…anyone who’s a little creative and likes to eat.”

Charlie with Guy Fieri/Photo courtesy of Charlie Boghosian

Boghosian recalls 1996 being special, as it was the year he took the fair into his own hands. After purchasing a vendor’s old broasted chicken trailer, and re-branding it as “Chicken Charlie’s,” Boghosian finally decided to take what he learned the last 12 years, and start his own fair food legacy.

After a couple of years selling broasted chicken, Charlie felt he needed to mix things up from just chicken and fries — that’s when the deep-fried Oreo was born.

“I went to the Hostess rack at 7-Eleven and started frying everything under the sun,” Boghosian said. “The Oreo cookie ended up being the best tasting one.”

Being a huge fan of McDonald’s growing up, Boghosian was inspired by the McDonald’s apple pie, which was previously fried before the 1992 baked version debuted. He knew his chicken needed a sweet pairing, and the Oreo experiment ended up being a hit.

Content with the deep-fried Oreo’s success, Charlie didn’t even anticipate going any further with fried items, but when pressed for more by a reporter at the Fresno County Fair, Boghosian felt he had to think of a way to top himself the next year.

“I was like, ‘Well, I fried an Oreo and it was delicious. Everyone loved it. What do you guys want?” Boghosian remembered.

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An expectation of new fried foods was set, and Charlie wanted to deliver.

The following years, Boghosian started deep frying strawberries, bananas, pretzels, and even avocados — and the reputation of Chicken Charlie catapulted into stuff of legend.

“I’ll deep fry just about anything I can get my hands on. I’m looking at your glasses right now, and I want to fry them,” teased Charlie.

For the summer of 2018, Chicken Charlie’s hot new item is deep-fried filet mignon, where he fried 7,000 pounds of the premium cut for the San Diego County Fair alone. You’d never expect that a steak that’s considered a top cut, would work as a deep-fried food, but Charlie made it work, deliciously.

To produce such a massive frying operation for the fair, Chicken Charlie requires five truckloads, carrying around 22 pallets full of frying oil. Not to mention another two truckloads for the flour that coats all these delicious fried concoctions.

And the fairs love it all.

“Charlie is a great ambassador for the OC Fair and his innovative creations keep fairgoers coming back year after year to see what’s new, and what’s crazy,” Terry Moore OC Fair spokesperson said. “He has a knack for combining things that shouldn’t work together, but do. He really is an institution at the OC Fair.”

Being in fairs across California, Texas, and Arizona, Boghosian has launched an unexpected food career that has transitioned into the brick-and mortar Chicken Charlie’s FRYBQ in San Diego, California. At the FRYBQ, Boghosian offers an array of fried foods that he has built his name with, along with some less intense salads and wraps, for those who need a breather from all the fried food madness.

Grilled teriyaki chicken and rice inside a pineapple bowl/Photo by Peter Pham/Foodbeast

Now, Charlie is opening a second San Diego location, as he envisions his restaurant becoming a nationwide chain, and eventually even finding a spot on The Las Vegas Strip.

“I want to be a legit restaurateur and have restaurants across America,” a determined Boghosian expressed. “My dream is to have a restaurant in Las Vegas, on the strip. Las Vegas, here I come.”

Chicken Charlie sure has come a long way from the young boy who just wanted a new summer job.

“Coming to America as a young kid, I wanted to work. I wanted to do great things. Who knew a little Oreo cookie would change my life the way it did?”

Cravings Hit-Or-Miss Sweets

The Food At This Year’s OC Fair Will NOT Disappoint

The much anticipated OC Fair menu has arrived and it does not disappoint. The beloved fair will run from July 15 to August 14. We were only able to get our hands on a few photos since most of these are going to be run for the VERY FIRST TIME this year, so hashtag #FOODBEAST when you get your hands on them! Some of the new additions to the famous fried food scene include:

Chicken and Waffles ON A STICK – This delicious waffle is fried with CHICKEN IN IT. Chicken Charlie’s remarkable creation will be available throughout the entirety of the fair.

Dole Whip – This alone is worth the trip to the fair. The pineapple soft serve used to be exclusive to the 808 state, then made its way to Disneyland and is now popping up all over the US at places like Menchies, Orange Leaf, and Peachwave FroYo shops to name a few.

French Toast Bacon Bombs – This glorious combo is comprised of a deep fried, bacon wrapped, cream cheese stuffed ball of french toast finished with a delightful dusting of cinnamon sugar. I’m totally drooling.


Bacon Nutella PICKLE – So, a funnel cake and a pickle had a threesome with Nutella and this happened. This Nutella stuffed pickle is doused in funnel cake batter then tossed into the fryer for a healthy coating of fluffiness.

S’moreo Texas Donut – Texas has a reputation for making very, very large donuts, and the OC Fair is taking the extra large treat to a whole new level by adding marshmallow cream, Oreo, and graham cracker crumble.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 3.11.50 PM

Diabilito Sundae – This sweet and spicy combo is a “Tamarindo” flavored ice cream with a hot chili chamoy sauce, which is typically made from pickled fruit and added chillies for a salty, sweet AND sour flavor profile.

Kool Aid Hot Wings – Chicken Charlie’s puts another W in the win column with this Orange Kool Aid-Spiced wings.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 3.08.40 PM

Other menu options include Pork Belly Bacon Dogs, Deep Fried Pizza Logs, Bacon Wrapped Baked Potatoes, Shrimp Fried Rice on a Stick, and Lasagna Sandwiches.

They’ll also be serving up Bison Burgers, Organic Meat options, and Nitrate Free Hot Dogs so you can feel a little better about your carnivorous indulgences. A full list of foods that will be available can be found on the OC Fair Website.



Photo Credit: OC Fair


An Intimate Look At DEEP FRIED SLIM FAST Bars, This Summer’s Hot New Fair Food


Last week news broke that the Deep Frying King Pin (yes, that’s what we call this G of the fair food game) Chicken Charlie was going to deep fry something that would make haters’ heads explode: SLIM FAST bars.

We jumped down to the San Diego Fair to kick it with Charlie himself at the booth. He was posted up against a wall of produce behind his booth, as well as boxes and boxes of these:


That’s right. SLIM FAST bars. For our readers who may be too young to remember, or those that need a refresher, Slim Fast is a brand of diet and weight loss products that includes shakes, snacks, packaged meals and other dietary supplements. Chicken Charlie is no slim chicken, and decided that he’d take the Chewy Chocolate Crisp Slim Fast protein bars and deep fry them sunnavabitches, then hit them with a chocolate drizzle and powdered sugar.

These things are gonna be available everywhere Chicken Charlie is this summer, including stops at the OC Fair and the LA Fair.

Here’s a video to tide you over until you get to a summer fair and try this thing for yourself:



Sweet Horchata RAMEN Just Got Deep Fried Into A DONUT And It Is GLORIOUS


In late 2014, Internet food sensation Culinary Brodown (now going by the less-bro-tastic-but-more-professional real name of Josh Scherer) created something called the RAMNUT, a Ramen Donut hybrid.

The donut features a ramen that has been boiled in horchata and deep fried, dusted with powdered sugar.

Now in 2015, the donut makes its way through the Internet screen and into real life, being sold at the June 5th – 7th iteration of the OC Night Market (held at the OC Fairgrounds).



15 Insane Fair Foods You Need To Eat This Summer

Steeped in thick batter, then mercilessly deep-fried, so is the world of inglorious fair food. Naturally, when we got word that our local fair was serving Deep-Fried Doritos, Deep-Fried Pecan Pie-On-A-Stick, and some kind Deep-Fried Jack Daniels sorcery — we had to get in on it.

Apparently aware of our gluttonous journey, the day before we set out to opening day of the Orange County Fair for our coverage, a company by the name of UrgentRx sent us the most hilariously-timed package we’d ever received: a box full of their over-the-counter heart burn relief powders. Also in the care package was Upset Stomach Relief, Head Ache Relief and, just in case we needed it…Critical Care Aspirin, which their fact sheet described “its 325mg dose of aspirin taken at the first sign of a heart attack can improve chances of survival by 23% – a wallet must-have.


Here’s the new goodness we tried, where to get it, and how much it’ll cost you:


Deep Fried Doritos


WHAT: Doritos covered in batter, then deep-fried. Somehow they get lighter and flakier in the process. Couple your order with some Ranch dipping sauce and have yourself a good time, probably one of the most necessary finger foods you should try at the fair this year.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Chicken Charlie’s. You can’t miss his booth, it’s on the North side of the fairgrounds, and this dude has the easily the biggest, most ridiculous booth that makes all surrounding booths like like little Lego homes in comparison.

$: 8.75



Deep Fried White Castle Burgers


WHAT:  Exactly what it sounds like. If you like White Castle + fried things, split an order of this with a few friends so you don’t kill yourself.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Chicken Charlie’s, yeah we’re still here.

$: 7.75



Deep Fried Chicken Skins


WHAT: Title speaks for itself, but if you’ve tried these things before

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Chicken Charlie’s, we should leave soon.

$: Woops, was so excited didn’t write it down.



Deep Fried Cookie Dough



WHAT: Amazing. My favorite dessert of the fair — a crispy edge to warm, gooey cookie dough? So. Damn. Good.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Chicken Charlie’s

$:  7.75



Deep Fried Chicken Skins + Deep Fried White Castle Burger + Deep Fried Doritos + Deep Fried Cookie Dough



WHAT: Geoff‘s eccentricities getting the best of him, and deciding he wanted to taste all of Chicken Charlie’s new delicacies in one bite. Iff you decide to make and eat this bad boy, you’re really going to need that UrgentRX Heartburn Relief med.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Chicken Charlie’s

$: Add up the prices of all the things in there. You can make a couple of these after buying the plates separately.



Deep Fried Pecan Pie on a Stick


WHAT: An entire slice of pecan pie, deep fried, and delivered on a stick.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Fried Sweets, it’s near the ferris wheel across from the photo booths.

$: 8



Giant Pop Rocks Donut


WHAT: A humongous, pancake-sized warm fluffy donut with a warm pink icing and topped with Cherry Pop Rocks. The donut is what makes this thing credible, the dough is perfect, the warm fry keeps it edible for awhile and it’s a messy delight for everyone involved.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Texas Doughnuts, they have a huge banner with a giant picture of this thing. You’ll see it.

$: 8.75



Pickle Dog: A Corn Dog with a Pickle Inside



WHAT:  A bit pricey, but one of the most delicious and unique things at the fair for 2014. This booth hollows out a giant pickle, sticks a weiner-on-a-stick through it, and then batters and fries the entire thing. If you’re a fan of pickles and corndogs respectively, you’ll relish in this extravagant new food item (get it?).


$: 10



Drunken Pickle Poppers


WHAT: Pickles and Jalapeno poppers had a baby. Fried pickles stuffed with cream cheese & jalapenos. Messy and delicious. Get an order of these.


$: 11



Tasti Chips w/ Nacho Cheese and Jalapenos


WHAT: Nothing extravagant or shocking, just a fantastically accurate baked potato chip with nacho cheese and jalapenos. Really delicious, deserved some shine.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Tasti Chips, across from all the animals and shit. Literally, it smells like shit in this part of the park.

$: 10.50



Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Turkey Leg


WHAT: We’ve seen turkey legs before. We’ve seen bacon-wrapped turkey legs before. But never have we see deep-fried bacon wrapped around an enormous multiple-pound turkey leg — and frankly, it was absolutely delicious. The Guiness Beer-battered bacon really shines and the turkey leg remains ample. If you plan on enjoying the entire thing with multiple people, I’d recommend jumping on a table with a few plates, and start shaving the entire thing off the bone — otherwise after a few bites you’ll all be sharing the same, saliva-ridden meat dumbbell.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Bacon-A-Fair, but it’ll linger in your arteries hardcore.

$: 20



Naked shrimp, rice and pineapple-pineapple bowl



WHAT: YES. I can’t believe it either — we’re talking about a dish that’s not deep fried and it won’t immediately send you into a cardiac arrest, but it was one of the most delicious, fulfilling and scrumptious things at the fair. The shrimp has a crazy good marinade, the pineapples are cut fresh and the sticky rice absorbs the flavor of the half pineapple it’s sitting in.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Pineapple Express (also a Chicken Charlie’s booth), across from the big amp

$: 14.75



Deep Fried Pineapples


WHAT: If you like pineapples, these things are moist with a light crunch, in a good good way. The chocolate and coconut is a perfect touch.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Pineapple Express (also a Chicken Charlie’s booth)

$: $6.75



Chili Relleno Chorizo Cheeseburger on a Pretzel Bun



WHAT: A chili releno, chipotle mayo, cheddar cheese, regular hamburger patty, chorizo burger patty, all on a pretzel bun. A bit on the expensive side for a burger, but damn was it tasty.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT: Grantburgers, right next to Tasti Chips from above, if you find that, you’ll find this.

$: 15.75



Deep Fried Jack Daniel’s


WHAT:  A bit mis-leading of a name, but it’s a Jack Daniel’s-infused churro, wrapped in bacon. It comes with a side of whipped cream and maple syrup, but I highly recommend trying the entire dish sans any of the fancy toppings and letting the Jack Daniel’s shine through. The flavors are fantastic — essentially breakfast in your mouth.


$: 6.50



Finally: A Handy Nutritional Guide to Fair Food [Infographic]


In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a legislation requiring restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets to show calorie counts next to food items on menus and menu boards. Despite the health law, most local county fairs fail to display nutritional information — probably because they don’t want to scare off customers with the calorie-packed truth, and many booths simply aren’t under the jurisdiction of that law.

Thus, we’re left to guess at how many calories deep-fried Oreos contain, and how much sodium a giant Turkey leg is coated with (1,900 milligrams). Thanks to this colorful new photo-infographic, we’re now privy to the nutritional makeup of some of the most popular food items available on this summer’s fair circuit:


Infographic via Rasmussen College


Video Guide to Eating Terribly at the Summer Fair

It’s the heart of the summer fair season, and one of the questions I get asked every day is, “Dude, I’m at the fair right now…what should I eat?”

Everyone is different. Some folks want the casually calm fair experience: nibble on a churro, maybe try a foreign delicacy, and catch the subtle nuances of a pig race. Seriously, pig races are a real thing — shout out to the super fast Natalie Porkman, the cutest pig around.

For us, the fair only comes to our area once a year. It’s our civic duty to eat like food is going out of style, drink like the world’s drying up, and pretend that our arteries are malleable tubes that will never feel the ramifications of a 4 pound turkey leg wrapped head-to-bone in bacon.

So when our friends at clothing brand Young & Reckless asked us, “Yo man, we’re heading down to the Orange County Fair, what should we eat?”

Instead of pointing them to our recap of Fair Food Instagram photos, or telling them to read the article our writer wrote up about awesome foods to check out at the OC Fair, we hit back, “F-ck it, we’ll just come with you.”

What resulted is a how-to, instructional video of sorts, of all the popular deep-fried fatty food you should try at the fair and how to have a blast doing so. Not a single food gets left unturned. Everything from Deep Fried Klondike Bars, Oreos, Cereal to Bacon, Frog Legs, 3,000+ calorie Turkey Legs and Deep Fried PB&J Sandwiches.

Here’s how to eat food at your local fair, like a BOSS: