Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

'Let's Go Retro' and escape to the past with iconic San Diego County Fair food!

Spam and Monte Cristo Sandwiches are just two of the retro food offerings guests will find at the 2024 San Diego County Fair, which runs from June 12 to July 7. The fair theme, "Let's Go Retro," extends to a delectable array of eats that are undeniably retro. The Barbie pink lemonade is refreshing, and the wonderful flavor is intensified by a margarita-style rim of salt.

Colorful flapping flags adorning the food booths are sure to make guests snap to attention and sample some sizzling chicken, crunchy kettle corn, and cinnamon buns dripping with frosting.

One of the food stars this year is Spam – refined pork and ham that was introduced in 1937 by Hormel Foods. During World War II, several million cans of Spam were shipped overseas to soldiers.

After the war, Spam became popular with many American cooks, including my own mother. When I sampled Spam at the fair, it tasted just like mom's fried Spam – delicious with a salty ham flavor. A great transformation occurs in the Spam when it is fried.This transformation turns a rather gelatinous food to a crispy treat!

Boba King is the vendor offering Spam Fries, which are delicious fried strips of Spam. Unlike the chunks of Spam mom would fry, these narrow strips allow for more fried flavor to infuse the Spam with salty, crispy goodness!

Each year Chicken Charlie's always comes up with something innovative, enticing and flavorful. The genius behind all of this deliciousness is owner, Charlie Boghosian. Charlie has been featured on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, and other media powerhouse outlets, but he is just a friendly, happy guy, who loves what he does.

Famous for his Deep-fried Oreos, Charlie invented another winner this year – the Funnel Cake Dog! Charlie told me, "I wanted to put a new twist on the typical corn dog."

Yes, the Funnel Cake Dog is new, and, yes, there is a twist. The funnel cake is twisted around and around a huge hotdog , then it's deep-fried, drizzled with maple syrup, and sprinkled with a whole lot of powdered sugar! It's a wonderfully delicious treat!

Look for a vendor named "Cheesy Chef" for a Monte Cristo Sandwich! The sandwich is a delight that I have enjoyed for almost 55 years at Disneyland's Blue Bayou restaurant. However, I just skipped the drive to Orange County and enjoyed this delicacy at the fair.

The Monte Cristo is made with ham, turkey, cheddar and Swiss cheese sandwiched between bread slices. It is then deep-fried, and topped with powdered sugar. Dip it in syrup and you are in for a treat!

Another "blast from the past" is a dessert inspired by the 50/50 ice cream bars of the sixties. On hot days, I remember running out to the ice cream truck to buy a refreshing orange and vanilla ice cream bar.

At "Farmer in the Del," I experience that same refreshing taste with an enhanced version of the 50/50 popsicle – "Dreamsicle Pudding Trifle." Their version is made with vanilla cheesecake, fresh orange mousse, and salted graham cracker crust. That's not all! The dessert is topped with sugared orange, whipped cream, and dreamsicle ice cream! It's definitely retro, and definitely delightful.

Kettle corn is another retro food that is about as retro as it can get. It's popcorn cooked in oil with sugar, which creates a magical, wonderful flavor. The origin of kettle corn is rather murky, but some historians say that it was invented in Holland, during the 1600s, or 1700s. The Dutch immigrants then brought the recipe to America.

Popcorn itself is beyond retro to just plain ancient. Archaeologists in Peru have found fossil evidence of popcorn dating back as early as 4,700 BC. In modern times, Charles Cretor of Chicago invented the steam-powered popcorn maker in the 1890s, setting off America's obsession with the fluffy snack.

Kettle corn is a fair staple for me. I can't leave the fair without carting home a large bag of it. A lot of it is eaten in the car, so only about half the bag actually makes it home!

"Let's Go Retro," and revel in summer's sweet and savory delights at the 2024 San Diego County Fair!

Find more information at


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 07/22/2024 20:48