Italian Taco, Butter Beer Ice Cream and Octo Lolly among new items on Stampede midway menu

Harry Potter fans, cereal lovers, spice fanatics and those who view eating as a version of Truth or Dare, take note: the Calgary Stampede has released its hotly anticipated list of new foods for this year’s midway and the options.

Whether you’re craving something legitimately delicious or a dish that’s mostly fit for the ’gram, you’ll find it on the midway. And, in a time when vendors are upping the ante every year in an effort to become the hit of the midway, the creations are just getting weird. Scorpion pizza? So, last year.

Sure, a long john donut filled with chocolate chip cookie dough makes some sense, but a pizza with garlic-Sriracha, pepperoni and maraschino cherries? Topped with a type of pop rocks candy?! Too far, kids.

So, what’s going to be hot from the deep fryer or served up on a stick? What could possibly happen to a standard hot dog? And what will be ridiculously spicy, just for the hell of it? Let’s break it down.

Perennial fave, the mini doughnut, gets a few makeovers, including a Cereal Sugar version that appears to simply be small doughnuts with a few Froot Loops, a cotton candy option and Cinnamon Bun Mini Doughnuts, which are topped with cream cheese icing and a brown sugar cinnamon glaze. I can feel a cavity forming already!

Confectionary classic, cotton candy, makes a few appearances in new iterations for this year’s menu. There’s the aforementioned Cotton Candy Mini Doughnuts, as well as a Cotton Candy Taco. A crunchy waffle taco filled with, essentially, sugary air should be interesting to eat. It’s got a “marshmallow drizzle” and Oreo chocolate crumble, if that helps. 

If it’s the sweetness of cotton candy that turns you off, you can opt for a pickle-flavoured version. Dill pickle, it appears, is the flavour of the month. Or, well, the 10 days.

In the category of, What Can’t We Deep Fry? Twizzlers have joined the list. And, as if deep-frying them isn’t enough, they’re topped with icing sugar and chocolate sauce. Not crazy enough? How about a deep-fried popsicle from Family Freezed? Comes in raspberry, root beer or, yes, cotton candy.

If a hot popsicle doesn’t do it for you, there is also the Dill Pickle Pop. (Told you, it’s the main midway flavour.) Prefer ice cream? Yup, that comes in pickle flavour, too.

Harry Potter fans may want to opt for Butter Beer Ice Cream — a far more appetizing option than dill pickle, what with the flavours of shortbread and butterscotch combined. 

Behold the Octo Lolly

Food-on-sticks fans, I hope you’re into seafood. One vendor is offering up both skewered octopus tentacles and the Octo Lolly — a stick stacked with tiny, whole octopuses, complete with tiny, tentacled legs.

And, what would Stampede be without something stupidly spicy? This year, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are crushed and coated on both a corn dog and frog legs. The bright red-orange Cheetos are kept whole as a topping on the Flamin’ Philly Cheesesteak.

Bugs are back, naturally. This time you can get them on a sundae, served up in a waffle bowl.

And finally, in what I anticipate will be the thing that everyone orders for kicks and then is disgusted by, I present: the Snickle Dog.

What’s that, you say? Why, it’s a hot dog and a pickle AND a Snickers bar all cozied up in a tortilla and then deep fried. I like salty-sweet combinations, but this, my friends, is just a no.

What’s a yes? I’ll be going for the Italian Taco. Forget a corn taco shell, this one starts with a chicken Parmesan cutlet as its base. That gets folded around pasta, marinara sauce, cheese and a hefty, one-pound meatball. Buon Appetito!

Gwendolyn Richards is a Calgary-based food and travel writer. She considers herself a mostly adventurous eater, but will be avoiding most of the new midway foods in favour of Those Little Donuts.