This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utahns have eaten lime Jell-O in all its different incarnations: from molded with sour cream and pineapple to jiggly shooters with vodka. But the state's favorite gelatinous food has probably never been served up battered and deep-fried — until now.

"You'll never be able to get deep fried Jell-O anywhere else," said Jon Searle, who will be serving this decidedly Utah treat at the 2012 Utah State Fair, which kicks off its 10-day run on Thursday.

Searle opened his "Deep Fry Guy" booth at the fair in 2005. Since then, the Springville resident has battered and deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Oreos, Twinkies and cheesecake.

For this year's signature offering (which costs $5), he mixes the green gelatin, then adds it to what he refers to as his "State Fair Famous Deep Fried Guy" batter, and pours it into the fryer, and the concoction is plunged into hot oil for about 30 seconds. Afterwards, the treat is topped with more gelatin.

"The Jell-O melts and softens inside the batter," said Searle, who is an Internet marketer the rest of the year. "It's intoxicating: a once in a lifetime original for Utah."

Deep-fried Jell-O isn't the only unique food at the fair. Here are five State Fair food items that sound more appetizing than the usual hot dogs and cotton candy.

Fiery fungus quesadillas • It's just one of several gourmet offerings from the five-month old Quesadilla Mobilla Food Truck, coming to the fair from its headquarters in Moab. The fiery fungus tortilla is filled with green chile chicken, cheese, sautéed artichoke hearts, spinach and black olives.

Another spicy favorite is the Southern Belle: red chile seasoned beef, cheese, sautéed corn, onions and roasted sweet potatoes. Owners Carrie Finn and Steven Lucarelli, who quit their day jobs to start the food truck, also serve two dessert quesadillas: the cran-apple with cream cheese and the campfire classic, reminiscent of s'mores.

Moo-cheesie rings • Carl Fiessinger, the recently hired chef at Moochie's Meatballs in Salt Lake City, created this kicky side dish specifically for the 2012 fair. Deep-fried onion rings are topped with melted cheese, Moochie's popular Jumpin' Jalapeno Sauce and sliced cherry peppers. Enjoy them with one of Moochie's Philly cheesesteak sandwich or a side of fried ravioli on a stick.

Roasted Utah corn • The Moon River Corn Co., owned by the Montandon family of Syracuse, has been selling roasted corn on the cob for more than 25 years, almost all of them from the same spot on the fairgrounds, at the entrance to the rodeo grounds. The roaster, which looks like an enormous clothes dryer, is easy to spot as it's built on the back of the 1925 Chevy pick-up truck.

It can cook 200 ears of corn — still in their husks — in 11 minutes, said Steve Montandon, whose father built the roaster when he started the business. Roasting with the radiant heat forces the sugar from the center of the cob, into the kernels; and leaving the husk on prevents flavors and nutrients from escaping. It's so much sweeter than its boiled cousin, Montandon said. Customers can get their corn with regular or lemon butter and they can personalize it with 50 different condiments from cayenne pepper and Parmesan cheese to hot sauce.

Rubadue's crab cakes • For gourmet fare at the fair, look for Rubadue's Saucey Skillet, a new food truck that launched about six weeks ago. It's owned and operated by long-time Utah chef and caterer, Carl Rubadue, who said sauces are his specialty. His signature dish is an Alaskan red king crab cake made with coconut milk and red Thai curry and topped with a lemon ginger sauce. The Saucey Skillet menu also includes homemade macaroni and cheese — available with or without the fresh crab — and pulled pork sliders.

Smokin' nachos • This is the sixth year that Richard Copeland, owner for Richard's Roundup BBQ, has served his Memphis-style barbecue at the state fair. Besides the spice-rubbed ribs, pork, brisket and smoked sausage, customers return for the smokin' nachos: tortilla chips topped with homemade ranch beans, cheese, jalapenos and Copeland's signature sweet barbecue sauce. Copeland and his wife, Elizabeth, have catered some 25,000 events over the last 17 years. In January, the couple opened Richard's Roundup BBQ restaurant in Grantsville, so customers can taste their classic barbecue all year long.

Twitter: @kathystephenson —

State fair in brief

When • Thursday, Sept. 6 through Sunday, Sept. 16

Where • Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City

Open • Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Costs • $10 for adults; $7 for youths (6-12) and seniors (62 and over); free, children 5 and under. Opening day $5. Parking $6, cash only. —

Food at the fair

Utah's Own has several local food cooking demonstrations and contests scheduled for the 2012 State Fair.

The Taste of Utah

When • Thursday, Sept. 6, noon to 8 p.m.

Where • Utah State Fairpark, Specialty tent, 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City

What • Free samples of more than 50 different Utah-made food products including local meats, fresh produce, cheeses, beverages and sweets, including several products that are gluten free.

More inside

Utah recipe roundup

Funeral potato contest

Food at the Utah State Fair

Utah Recipe Roundup

When • Wednesday, Sept. 12, 7 to 7:30 p.m.,

Where • Utah State Fair Park, Zion Building, 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City

What • Participants should bring a homemade dish that uses at least three — but preferably more — Utah's Own ingredients. Dishes will be judged on taste, appearance, originality, creativity and the best use of Utah-made products. Products must be clearly identified by brand name, or in the case of fresh produce, who it was purchased or procured from. The more Utah's Own products used, the more points awarded.

Funeral potato contest

When • Thursday, Sept. 13, 7 to 7:30 p.m.

Where • Utah State Fair Park, Zion Building, 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City

What • Make your best recipe for funeral potatoes and bring it to the fair for judging. Participants must use at least one Utah's Own ingredient, but are encouraged to use more. Dishes will be judged on taste, appearance, originality, creativity of the recipe and the best use of Utah-made products. Products must be clearly identified by brand name, or in the case of fresh produce, who it was purchased or procured from.

Details •