Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Top 5 New Foods to Try at the 2016 Iowa State Fair

The 2016 Iowa State Fair is almost here, and it’s making us hungry just thinking about it! Every year the fair announces a list of new foods that will be available to fairgoers. Some are classics, and some are interesting (to say the least), but these are the top 5 foods we can’t wait to give a try!
  1. Ice Cream Nachos: Everyone likes nachos, and everyone likes ice cream, so why not combine the two? These nachos are made of cinnamon sugar chips and cinnamon ice cream topped with hot fudge, caramel, bits of chocolate, and strawberries. Perfect for those hot summer days of the fair!
  2. Funnel Bacon on a Stick: There’s no such thing as calories at the fair, right? Good thing, because Funnel Bacon on a Stick is one of those foods you just have to try while at the fair! This interesting new food includes a deep fried strip of bacon on a stick, dipped in funnel cake batter, then deep fried again, and topped with your choice of maple butter cream, caramel or chocolate syrup.
  3. Not Your Mamma’s Taco: This 2016 New Food Contest Finalist is a new kind of taco sure to make your mouth water! The taco is made of a deep fried flour tortilla filled with seasoned turkey, homemade veggie slaw, and sweet mango salsa. Give the new taco a try at the Iowa Turkey Federation stand, west of the Anne and Bill Riley Stage.
  4. Caramel Cocoa Crispy Crunch: Another tasty treat sure to please is the Caramel Cocoa Crispy Crunch. It doesn’t get much better than this frozen blend of cocoa crispies, marshmallows, white chocolate and caramel fudge dipped in chocolate. Yum!
  5. Pride of Iowa Wrap: Last, but definitely not least, is the Pride of Iowa Wrap. Also one of this year’s Best New Food Finalists, this wrap is sure to be a fairgoer favorite! The wrap is jam-packed with pork shoulder, sweet corn salsa, bacon bits, cheese, avocado relish, chipotle aioli and crispy tortilla bites. The wrap will be available at the G. Migs stand, just southeast of the Varied Industries Building.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Top Things To Do In Iowa This Summer

Summer is on its way. Do you have plans yet? While many people might jet set to other parts of the country for their vacation of choice, you don’t have to travel far to have a summertime adventure. There are some great events and attractions going on right here in Iowa! So without further ado, here are some of the top things to do in Iowa this summer.
  •  80/35: For as young as this music festival is, it sure has become a staple in the music festival scene. 35,000 festival goers come to Des Moines each summer to attend the 80/35 3-day lineup. The festival strikes a perfect balance of well-known acts while still including up-and-coming/local acts, making it the perfect way to find your next music obsession and also enjoy summertime in Des Moines!
  •  Adventureland: Looking for something fun for the whole family? Plan a weekend getaway to Adventure land Amusement Park! With over 100 rides, shows, and attractions including some of the country's most exciting roller coasters and thrill rides, you may forget that this attraction is located right in your backyard.
  • Zoo Brew: Enjoy learning about the exotic animals of Black Park Zoo while sipping on your favorite beer or margarita. A truly unique event, this is the perfect evening activity that you should definitely add to your summer bucket list!
  • The Iowa State Fair: This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the country’s most famous fair; The Iowa State Fair. Not only is this one of the top events in Iowa, but also in the entire country.  You’ll find entertainment for the whole family; from face painting and rides to beer and food, don’t let this summer pass without spending a day or two at the Iowa State Fair!
  • Iowa Great Lakes: You don’t have to head to the coast to enjoy sand and sun! Make a point to head to the Iowa Great Lakes this summer to enjoy some fun on the water!  From boating and waterskiing, to food and drink, this is a great weekend getaway.
  • National Balloon Classic: This has been a Central Iowa tradition for over 40 years! Watch as the Iowa skies are filled and animated with the enchanting splendor of hot air balloons! Your family is sure to love witnessing this unique event! Feeling brave? Take flight in a balloon ride! Or for the more faint of heart, witness mass balloon ascensions, Nite Glows, and even enjoy some live bands/entertainment. This is one summer outing you’ll be glad you partook in!
  • RAGBRAI: The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Race Across Iowa was started in 1973, and it’s something you don’t want to miss. RAGBRAI is the largest bike-touring event in the world. Whether you’re a serious cyclist or a laid back rider, RAGBRAI has a spot for you. The ride entire route takes seven days, but riders can come and go as they please.  So strap on your helmet and get ready to ride at this year’s RAGBRAI event.

Friday, March 20, 2015

How To Throw a Backyard Carnival

No matter your age, everyone likes a good carnival. And while it might be expensive to take you child and a bunch of their friends to the fair, you can have the same experience at home for a fraction of the cost. Try throwing your own carnival at your child’s next birthday party. You really only need a few things!
  • Food and Snacks: Every good carnival has food, snacks, and beverages. From Corn Dogs and funnel cakes, to popcorn and Chex mix, you can make it as fancy or as simple as you like. Sam’s Club is a great place to shop for bulk items, ensuring you’ll have enough food and drink to go around without breaking the bank. 
  • Games: Whether it’s pin the tail on the donkey, ring around the bottle, or water balloon dodgeball, you don’t have to break the bank to have fun at your backyard carnival. Be resourceful. Check out these DIY Party Games to get some inspiration. 
  • Prizes: With a little planning, you can purchase some pretty nifty party favors for cheap. Try Oriental Trading Company . Stores like the Dollar Tree or Walmart have party favor sections with some fun novelty items that can work as game prizes. 
  • Rides: When we say rides, no we are not delusional. We know you can’t just go out and rent a tilt-a-whirl and plop it in your backyard. But you can rent a bounce house for a surprisingly reasonable price. If you live on a farm, wagon rides are a lot of fun also. All it takes is a little creativity.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

How to Start a Food Cart Business:

As a food truck owner, you get to enjoy the wonderful weather that comes with carnival season as well as meet people from all different walks of life. So it is clear that a career in food vending can be very appealing to some, as it offers flexibility and excitement.  It can also be a very fruitful career if you can employ a well thought out business plan.

Here are a few steps you should take to start up your Food Truck:

  1. Create a Menu: Keep in mind that quick prep means quick money.  Try to include items on your menu that can be prepared quickly. It’s also great to select ingredients based on versatility. If an ingredient can be used in more than one menu item, you save on space which is limited within your mobile set up.
  2. Get Equipped: What good is a food cart without the proper equipment? Think about the tools you will need, not only to prepare the menu items you offer, but also to keep a cleanly and functioning cart. You’ll also need vehicle which is large enough to transport all of your gear.
  3. Follow the Law: Make sure you don’t skip this step. You need to make sure your food cart is licensed with your local health department. If food prep needs to happen prior to hitting the road, you’ll need to either lease a location and license it as commercial kitchen, or invest in a permanent location, which also should be licensed.  Just make sure you are aware of the food licensing laws for your area, in most places, you’ll need to purchase a separate temporary food service permit for each event you vend.
  4. Do Your Research: Be on the lookout for events and festivals where your food cart may do well.  Get in touch with festival directors and organizers and let them know you are interested in participating. Don’t forget to take into account the size of the festival. You don’t want to sign up to participate in a large festival you can’t feed due to your lack of staff or food supply.
  5. Make Yourself Known:  Don’t forget you’ll need a sign. Invest in some eye-catching signage that will attract the attention of hungry, potential customers. Let them know exactly who you are and what you can offer them. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

History of Cotton Candy:

The cotton candy machine was invented in the late 1800s by two men from Nashville, Tennessee.  One was William Morrison, a dentist, and the other John C Wharton, a confectioner.  They developed the machine that was debuted at the Paris Exposition in 1900 and the Saint Louis World’s Fair in 1904.  They ended up selling over 68,000 boxes of what was called “fairy floss” and sold for 25 cents per box.

There have been many improvements over the years, but the original concept has remained the same.  Sugar is placed in the head of the cotton candy machine which is located in the middle of the base.  The machine heats the sugar up to 300° which allows the sugar to melt .  While the sugar is melting, the head is spinning at about 3500 rpms, which creates a centrifugal force that shoots the sugar out of the head through a screen causing a flossing effect.  Typically there is a netting that is used on the side of the bowl to catch the floss.  Over the years, flavoring and coloring has been added to the sugar for added fun and taste appeal.  The flavored  is called floss sugar.

Even though the cotton candy machine has only been around for about a hundred years the concept of spun sugar has been around since the 1400s in Italy.  Back then, the delicacy was typically only affordable by the wealthy and elite due to the extensive process in making it.  Now everyone can enjoy the sugary treat with the modernization of the cotton candy machine.

Paragon offers two versions of the cotton candy machine.  The first, Spin Magic 5, has a 5” head and comes with a choice of a metal or plastic bowl.  This unit has a built in voltage meter for perfect cotton candy.  The other machine Paragon offers is the Classic Floss 5 and is a lot like the Spin Magic but without the voltage meter for a more economic version.  Both machines can produce up to 200 cones per hour.
Check out all the great cotton candy products Paragon has to offer:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ready for Summertime Fun

Paragon is hard at work getting ready for all the summertime fun.  Cotton candy machines are only one of products we are making today.