As a Hoosier, I am proud to tell you all that the Indiana State Fair has banned the use of trans-fats in its concession stand food. That’s right, you can now crunch on a platter of deep-fried Oreos, Snickers bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups without worrying about extra hydrogen atoms in your unsaturated fats. Yippee?
I have never attended the state fair because I get headaches when I get dehydrated, so walking around a huge parking lot during a heat wave seems like a prescription for a migraine. However, I have been tempted to go simply because I am equal parts horrified and fascinated by the idea of deep-fried Pepsi. I think it’s awesome that you can deep-fry a beverage, even if it’s also proof of an unholy pact between culinary scientists and Satan.
I love the idea of cooking with sodas. I even tried a recipe for a Dr. Pepper Baked Apple once, which disappointingly tasted just like a normal baked apple. I am an unrepentant soft drink addict even though they helped make me fat and gave me umpteen cavities. I’m surprised that all the amalgamated metal in my teeth doesn’t set off the metal detector at the airport. If I started flying on a regular basis I might get accused of trying to hide a pocket knife in my molars. My dental hygienist was able to guess that I drank a lot Mountain Dew in my college years simply by the specific wear pattern on my teeth. I was somewhat freaked out by her ability to deduce this, though the accuracy of her guess makes me wonder if there are untapped arenas in the fortunetelling business for reading people’s bicuspids instead of their palms.
I eventually switched to diet drinks, but I still drink far more sodas in a day than could be considered “healthy” or “good-for-me.” I don’t care. I love soda, just like I love biting my fingernails. There’s nothing like chewing on a nice long thumbnail or sucking down a Diet Big K cola for breakfast. I have no plans on giving up either, though it leaves me vulnerable to the occasional hangnail and the remote possibility that I will die of aspartame induced cancer. Everybody’s got to die of something.
Fried Pepsi is made by dipping a Pepsi-based dough in a Pepsi-based batter and deep-frying it for 90 seconds. I think they must come up with these foods simply so you can tell people stories about this crazy thing you ate one time. It’s like how they invented Spring Break so college students have stories of wet t-shirt contests and threesomes to tell the nurses when they’re 80 years old and sitting in a corner of a retirement home. In elementary school you could dare kids to eat bugs on the playground, but now you can dare your friends to eat Fried Snickers bars at the state fair.
There is also a strange delight in doing something that is so obviously bad for you, yet will probably make you feel really good. We have to mediate so many of our urges and desires simply to live in peace with one another. Sometimes I’d like to maul the person who tries merging their SUV into the orbit of my Saturn on the highway, but I don’t because there would be consequences and lawsuits. While I generally enjoy eating healthy and exercising, it’s not so much because I enjoy feeling like someone has poured gasoline on my lungs and lit a match, it’s because I enjoy the results of these efforts. I’m always looking out for Future Me, and I hope that bitch is grateful for it. There’s a fundamental pleasure in letting loose for one small moment, dropping any pretenses and unapologetically indulging in something that obviously has no positive long-term side effects, something that is simply good for my present self and nothing more. I do a lot for Future Me, she can take a hit for Present Me every now and then.
I don’t think I could ever work at a Fried Pepsi concession though, due to moral objections. I would feel like I was killing America. It would be like working for the tobacco industry without the air-conditioned boardrooms. It would also be hot and sweaty and I’d have to interact with the hot and irritable public. I just couldn’t do it, even if they have taken the trans-fats out.