Rob Ford in his natural element – butter. I didn’t eat this.
Each year I go down to the Canadian National Exhibition and try out an assortment of the bizarre and gimmicky foods they have there. In 2010 it was stuff like Deep Fried Butter and Taco In A Bag, and in 2011 it was things like Deep Fried Pickle and a hamburger made using Krispy Kreme doughnuts as buns.
Once again, this year yielded some fascinating and gruesome taste sensations — including the worst thing I’ve encounter in the three years of tracking this stuff.
Scroll down to see what I consumed:
The first stop was to the Coke booth to purchase a refillable cup and then partake of the magic flavour fountain pop selector machine they have. Basically, it’s like when you’re a kid and you try mixing a million flavours of pop together all at once. First you pick your drink base (choices seen below), then you’re sent to another screen where you can add flavour shots like vanilla, cherry and peach, then the machine fills your cup with the chosen concoction.
The magic flavour spooger Coke product machine.
This would be our first concoction, Vanilla & Cherry Coke. I was a big fan of the now-disappeared Vanilla Coke so this was a happy return of sorts. Better than normal Coke, but still fountain pop. 6.6/10.
We were going to hit the crazy train early and start with Kimchi fries from Far East Taco, but because the Food Building was just opening they weren’t exactly on their game yet. The Mandoo Beef Dumplings were ready though, so we had those. Solid, simple dumplings, they didn’t suck — because dumplings rarely do — but they weren’t exactly a mouthsterpiece either. 7/10.
From here it was on to the big trendy food booth for this year — Bacon Nation — where everything they serve was wrapped in bacon. I decided to go big with one of the ridiculous signature sandwiches on the menu, the Nutella BBBLT. This sandwich is comprised of back bacon, the L&T, bacon, more bacon, and Nutella, all spread over toast. Or at least it was supposed to…
The Bacon Nation Nutella BBBLT. As a BLT it solidly does its job. 7.5/10.
Unfortunately, what I got was the Bacon Nation No-tella BBBLT. There was no Nutella. So I basically paid $12 for a novelty sandwich that didn’t have the key component of its novelty. This means this sandwich was actually a complete failure. 0/10.
Sarah then ordered a classic grilled cheese from the Mac ‘N’ Cheesery (sic?) with a fried egg in it. I think she liked it. I had some of her chips — Miss Vickie’s regular (5.5/10) and pickle chunk (5.6/10).
By this time we were had pretty much finished our first wave of the Food Building, which we topped off with another round of pop.
Pop round two was Barq’s Vanilla Root Beer. This was a totally acceptable choice, though the vanilla flavour was a little on the subtle side. 6.4./10.
- From there we wandered around the Ex shopping area. I bought a cowboy hat and almost bought some Russian military hats, then it was on to more food.
Rasberry Coke. This was not a good idea. 3/10.
This here is the Greek Cheese Pie from one of those independent booths that only lasts one year. It was basically a baked pita with olive oil on it and wee chunks of cheese. Underwhelming, if that’s a word. 5/10
Sesame Zaatar With Cheese Pie. This was Sarah’s. She liked it, but there appeared to be none of the cheese we asked for. I tried it too. I thought it tasted like birdseed. 4.8/10.
- From there we went and checked out the Farm building, mostly to get a photo of the Mayor Rob Ford butter sculpture (shown above). It’s pretty brilliant — him in his natural state and all. The Creature From The Black Lagoon sculpture was technically better, though.
Creature From The Black Lagoon, sculpted out of butter.
- We also went to the Arts & Crafts Building — a horrible, horrible exercise in dodging doddering olds, rubbernecking rubes, parents with mega strollers and those generally incapable of navigating crowds — to stock up on fudge.
Vanilla Fudge. Vanilla totally gets a bad rap just because it’s associated with white people. This shiz is tasty. 8.1/10.
M&M Fudge. This is one of Sarah’s favourites. 7.8/10.
Oh My Gosh Fudge. I’m still trying to figure out what this is made of exactly, but I think it’s got marshmallows and caramel in it. Tasty, though. 8/10.
Red Velvet Fudge. I’m still not entirely sold on this whole red velvet food colouring trend, but this was just under the straight vanilla for tastiness. 7.9/10.
Another round of pop. Peach Sprite. This was like licking the bottom of a fruit stand clean. The worst. 2/10.
Beer break! (And frozen margarita break. That was some strong tequila.)
Frozen Margarita and Creemore beer. They’ve got booze in ’em, right? Right. 10/10.
- Our finite food limits were starting to be reached so we began planning our last eats. First up — something with actual vegetables in it.
This was a giant Veggie Loaded Potato from Baked ‘n’ Loaded, or Loaded and Baked, or Loaded Potatoface or whatever it was called. It was huge and featured broccoli, green beans, carrots and cheese jammed in the middle of a sea salt crusted baked potato. This was a welcome change from our non-stop sugar consumption and it was alright as far as vegetable slurry goes, too. 7.5/10.
- Before we enter into the closing eats phase, I should probably cop to two of my great food pet peeves — food with poor structural integrity, and food that makes your hands messy. It’s my belief that if my food falls apart at any point, this represents a fundamental failure on the part of the person designing it. Likewise, if my hands get dirty eating something it’s the same thing. In a world were we can make watermelons that are square-shaped, we can make it so food doesn’t fall apart all over us, right? Or can we?
Chocolate Dipped Ice Cream On A Stick With Sprinkles. In theory, this should have been a tasty treat, but the hot chocolate dip make the ice cream melt too quickly and the result was a drippy, deteriorating mess made worse by the chunks of chocolate sprinkle randomly falling to the ground. And being the cheapskate I am, each chunk that fell I was going “That’s 72 cents… That’s 12 cents… That’s 23 cents…” What should have been gold, wasn’t. 6/10.
- And then, the finale. I had seen this first thing in the morning and had been plagued with the thought of it all day — the Chocolate Eclair Hot Dog. I did not want to eat this. I knew it was going to be bad. But in the same way a fight gets declared in a schoolyard for after school I knew this was an inevitable tangle I was going to have to face. So just before we wrapped up our Ex visit for the day, I did…
The Maple Lodge Chocolate Eclair Hot Dog was one of the worst things I have ever eaten. Things did not get off to a good start when the group of college bros in line before me ordered one, got their order and proceeded to conduct an elaborate photo shoot before attempting to eat it — they were doing it as a dare. It didn’t get any better after I ordered and the first thing the server did was hand me a half-dozen napkins. So I got my Eclair and quickly rushed out of the Food Building to near BMO Field where there’d be less people to see me eat this…
Exactly like the title suggests, this is a chocolate eclair with a hot dog in the middle. On their own they’re both fine foodstuff, but the combination of chicken wiener and whipped cream was not a good one. Worse though, was the mess. Falling, dripping globs of cream landed at your feet, soaked through the napkins onto your hands and generally created the tactile sensation that you were being covered in sticky-sweet hot dog water. With Sarah’s help we wolfed this down (she was actually turning away from people walking in the nearby thoroughfare because she didn’t want anyone seeing her attempting to eat this). It was, truly, a heroically awful food experience. 1.1/10.
Things I ate at the CNE in 2016. Bug Bistro’s Bug Dog and Fran’s Blueberry Milkshake with a slice of real blueberry pie.
Things I ate at the CNE in 2015. Including Frosted Flakes Chicken On A Stick and The S&M Burger.
Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2014. Including Cocoa Chicken and the Thanksgiving Turkey Waffle.
Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2013. Including Nutella Jalapeno Poppers and the S’more Dog.
Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2011. Including the Krispy Kreme Hamburger and Deep Fried Twix.
Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2010. Including Deep Fried Butter and Taco In A Bag