- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2002

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) In the South, where some joke that the four basic food groups are barbecued, baked, broiled and fried, state fairs are filled with booths that sell such food as corn on a stick and clublike turkey legs.
For dessert, an odd treat has emerged: fried Twinkies.
Phil Dickson of Hot Springs has sold about 1,000 of the Twinkies batter-dipped and deep-fried, and topped with powdered sugar since the Arkansas State Fair opened Friday.
"It's amazing to me," Mr. Dickson said Monday. "The response has just been tremendous."
Each Twinkie, at 160 calories and 5 grams of fat, is impaled on a stick and frozen until firm, then dipped into a batter similar to that used to fry fish.
Deep frying adds more calories and fat, and the powdered-sugar coating apparently complements the Twinkie's altered state.
"The inside creamy part stays cool, while the outside is warm," said Rhonda Yates, a postal worker spending her vacation helping Mr. Dickson with the Twinkie booth.
Fairs in Arizona, California, Kansas and Washington state also are expected to roll out fried Twinkies this year.
Suzanne Hackett, the general manager of an English restaurant in New York City called the ChipShop, said the fried Twinkie was born in her eatery out of boredom.
"We had a very slow night in the restaurant, so we decided to buy a bunch of junk food and deep fry it," Miss Hackett said Monday. "And the Twinkies just tasted so good."
Interstate Brands Corp., the company that owns Twinkie-maker Hostess, doesn't object to the creation it promotes the idea though it doesn't suggest a steady diet of it.
"It's one of the beauties of having a brand that is an American icon," said Mike Redd, a vice president of Interstate's cake-marketing division. "It's fun and it's taken on a life of its own."
Still, Mr. Redd said, "It's not something you'd want to eat every day."
Frances Price, a clinical nutritionist with Arkansas Children's Hospital, said parents should be cautious but that eating treats is part of being a child.
"There is room in the diet for some treats; you can't exclude it completely," Miss Price said. "And at least fair food is part of a family activity where families walk up and down the midway."
Joel Counts, a tourist from the Los Angeles area who tried his first fried Twinkie on Monday, said it was excellent.
"It tastes like a Twinkie, but it has a little extra flavor because of the frying," Mr. Counts said. "And the powdered sugar just tops it off."

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