Grab the Tums ... it's time for The Big E

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This time of year, it's all about fairs and fair food. Hamburgers. Corn dogs. Cotton candy. Fried bread dough. A bacon cheeseburger on a glazed doughnut ... say what?

"We make an effort to bring food to our guests that they wouldn't be making in their own kitchen," Noreen Tassinari, The Big E's director of marketing, said in a phone interview Monday. "Fair food is fun food and is also delicious."

And this year, according to Tassinari, there will be close to 200 eating experiences at the Big E.

Topping the list of tried-and-true favorites over the years include the Big E Cream Puff, found at the Big E Bakery at the New England Center.

"It made its debut in 2002 and quickly became a must-have," Tassinari said, adding what makes it special is its size ("about the size of a Big Mac"), a "very, very rich" filling that is "only one whip away from butter" and being made of the freshest of ingredients.

"You have to try it to be a believer," she said. "It has just the right amount of sweetness."

This year, there are many new foods, Tassinari said, promising: "This year will not disappoint."

Among the many new offerings are the Dilly Dilly Dog, a cored-out large dill pickle stuffed with a hot dog, then dipped in a homemade corn dog batter and deep-fried "to a delicious golden finish," Tassinari said.

Another new food this year is the Messy Magnus, pulled pork sandwiched between halves of a warm apple fritter. And let's not forget the deep-fried, Pop Tarts, deep-fried corn on the cob, pulled-pork poutines, New England nachos made with French fries, Taco Chompers food truck, doughnut sundaes and the introduction of Stella's Milk and Cookies, which will have gourmet chocolate chip cookies served warm in a paper cone or by the bucket.

According to Tassinari, foods worth waiting in line for are the Big E cream puffs; The Craz-E Burger, a cheeseburger with bacon, sandwiched between two glazed honey-dipped doughnut halves; mini-doughnuts; the Soup Shack, which serves soup in a bread bowl; the Granville Country Store's mac-and-cheese grilled cheese sandwich; and gourmet sliders at Bud & Burger Pub, including one with a burger and peanut butter and jelly.

"But there are rarely lines because there are so many vendors," Tassinari said. "It also depends on the weather and the day of the week."

If you're gluten-free or vegan, there are many options. Those who are watching their calorie consumption will find many salad, fruit and falafal choices.

To get the most of your Big E fair food experience, Tassinari recommended indulging in a mixture of sweet and savory items, be willing to try new things — and come hungry.

On the menu ...

The Messy Magnus

Found at the Wurst Haus

Commonwealth Avenue

A pulled pork sandwiched between halves of a warm apple fritter.

The Craz-E Burger

Found at the Big E-Z Cafe

New England Avenue

A cheeseburger with bacon, sandwiched between two glazed honey-dipped doughnut halves.

Gourmet sliders

Found at Bud & Burger Pub

Inside Gate 7

New this year is a slider with a burger, peanut butter and jelly.

Mac-and-cheese grilled cheese sandwich

Found at the Granville Country Store

Inside Gate 4

A grilled cheese sandwich filled with creamy, rich macaroni and cheese.


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