Joseph Marji shares a moment with his father George Marji at the Fairplex Garden Railroad on Sept. 19. The 3,000 square foot railroad area is located east of the grandstand at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. The Railroad exhibit has been a fixture for visitors since 1935.
The defining characteristic of the Los Angeles County Fair is the food. People cannot get enough of the food, nor can they believe the options that are available.
There is literally too much to choose from: The blooming onions, corn dogs, hoagies, pizza, artichokes – the options are endless. And to a Fair first-timer, it can be very overwhelming.
But let us not forget the ever popular and slightly absurd deep fried foods. That’s right, Chicken Charlie is back at the fair, deep-frying anything that can be consumed.
“Who would have thought? Most of this stuff is unhealthy as it is, but hey, let’s deep fry it,” Jerry Hernandez, a Los Angeles resident and fair attendee, said. “I would have never thought.”
Almost everything can be fried according to Chicken Charlie, such as Twinkies, Oreos, avocados, or frog legs. Some of the items available for your digestion are sure to make you cringe. Chicken Charlie even had the nerve to fry Coca-Cola, keeping the average fair-goer entertained and chemists wondering what the world is coming to.
“Some of this junk is just disgusting and makes me want to go for a run,” said Kevin Knosp, a University of La Verne graduate. “Why would you want to ruin Coke? It’s Coke.”
Deep-fried Spam was one of the newer items this year. Most people would not eat Spam regardless, but who knows, perhaps with a few thousand more calories wrapped around it, Spam will look a little more appealing.
“I don’t understand how you can go from complaining about being overweight, not looking how you want to look, watching all of these commercials about obesity, and then come and eat something like this,” Hernandez said.
Knosp said he had a similar experience.
“Sure it might be good, but then don’t complain the next day when you get winded getting out of bed or feel horrible about gaining a few pounds.”
But on the plus side, Chicken Charlie is being very innovative. Sure, other people would have thought of a deep-fried smorgasbord but then thought it would not work at all.
In a perfect world there is too much against it.
Obviously it is doing quite well. Every time a fair-goer comes across a Charlie Chicken stand, there is a line. Thankfully there are multiple registers to accommodate the unthinkable number of deep-fried food fans.
“I love it,” said Chelsea Sleight, a University of La Verne sophomore. “I know I shouldn’t be eating it, but it is good. You just have to recognize that it may possibly kill you.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado was the only state in the United States that had an obesity rate under 20 percent. California fell into the 20-24 percent range.
Another study showed that 34 percent of all Americans are overweight, while 13 percent of children and adolescents have serious weight problems. And trends show that it is not improving.
For someone coming to the fair for the first time, Chicken Charlie’s may be a very big surprise and may even strike a wrong chord with guests.
Although it may not be for everyone, Chicken Charlie’s is not something that will go away any time soon.
Charlie Boghosian, San Diego native, owner and brainchild behind these calorie-packed treats, travels to county and state fairs all across California for five months out of the year.
“I’m not surprised how successful they are,” Sleight said. “I think it’s because they are so different and out there. And that attracts people. Plus it’s food, who doesn’t love food?”
So when you get a chance to make it to the fair, or you happen to go again, check out Chicken Charlie’s deep-fried delicacies.
The L.A. County Fair’s last day is this Sunday. Leo’s Den is selling tickets at $11 for adults and $7 for children
Alex Senyo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.