Old-school carnival treats at the CNE often take a backseat to the novel Franken-foods introduced each year. For all the monstrosities that employ a more-is-more approach, these classics are reassuringly the same year after year after year.
There are my favourite nostalgic treats available at the CNE.
Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches
Nothing beats this hot-and-cold midway treat. This iconic ice cream sandwich first debuted at the CNE in 1940 and has become a festival staple ever since.
99 cent Primo Spaghetti
Among the many cheap thrills at the Ex is this enduring dollar dish. It's an annual tradition for generations of fair-goers. Found in the Food Building, the pile of pasta in red sauce is a throwback to simpler times.
Get your sugar fix with these deep-fried mini doughnuts coated with powder sugar and/or cinnamon. This iconic vendor is one of the oldest still operating at the CNE having first appeared at the Ex in the 1960s.
This dish popularized by the Outback Steakhouse is hardly native to Toronto, but considering the Aussie-themed steakhouse has pulled out of the GTA market (there are still locations in Niagara Falls), fans of this blossoming deep-fried onion know to make an annual pilgrimage to the CNE to get their fill.
Before this waify confection ever started drowning itself in coffee and alcohol or pimping out soft serve cones, it was a star in its own right. It's a treasured treat at the CNE and these sugar clouds are in their element on the midway.
The origin of this classic concession is hotly debated, though its place on midway menus is certainly not. Battered and deep fried hot dogs on a stick are among the OGs of carnival food and hardly seem threatened by noobs like this year's deep fried pickle dog.
Veal Parmesan Sandwich
San Francesco Foods is a longtime resident of the CNE Food Building and while it's tried to get in on the epic food action (nice try Mega Sanwichee), it's the old school veal and chicken parm sandwiches that everyone knows and loves.
Legend has it that a Kraft Foods salesman first invented this treat in 1950 by dipping apples into melted Kraft caramels. Voila, the nostalgic treat (and cousin to Canada's beloved Kraft Dinner) has been a festival favourite ever since.
Deep Fried Candy Bars
A Scottish chip shop claims to have invented this deep fried delicacy as early as 1995. Regardless of its origin, this indulgent dessert is a highlight for many each year at the CNE.
Shopsy's was the corned beef king of the CNE. Now, the last remaining vestige of this classic deli sandwich can be found at the Original Montreal Deli in The Food Building.
Giant Turkey Legs
The belle of the ball at state fairs throughout the United States (especially in Texas) is this meaty treat that's also a favourite at the CNE. Get the slow-smoked original, or have it coated in crushed frosted flakes and then deep fried.
Naleway Foods has operated its pierogi stand in the CNE Food Building for over 40 years. Deep fried dumplings are the signature dish, though this year they've updated the classic with a poutine-ized pierogi offering.
The scent of funnel cake is a seductive force. Puffy golden squiggles of deep fried dough showered in icing sugar and dressed up with a swirl of soft serve and jam is the ultimate fair food.
First established in 1976, Ye Olde Fudge Pot is among the longest inhabitants of the Food Building. The chunks of fudge are made the old fashioned way in copper kettles and then poured onto marble slab tables to set.
Rainbow syrup soaked into a snow ball has never been my cup of tea, but the sugary midway treat is a classic that dates back to 1919 when it first debuted at the State Fair of Texas.
What did I miss? Add your nostalgic CNE treats to the comments.
Photos by Hector Vasquez and Jesse Milns.
by Liora Ipsum via blogTO