SAN DIEGO – Move over funnel cakes and corn dogs, deep-fat fried Kool-Aid is here.
"Oh, the moment of truth," said Joe Cocoba, a 31-year-old nursing student before biting into the glistening brown dough ball with a pink fluffy interior. "I can taste it (the Kool-Aid)! It's good."
San Diego County fair goers can't seem to get enough of the newest, oily treat that debuted at "Chicken Charlie's" food stand about two weeks ago when the annual event kicked off at the Del Mar horse race track and fairgrounds.
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Cocoba said biting into a kid's drink only made him want to try more of Chicken Charlie's other deep-fried offerings such as Klondike bars, Girl Scout cookies, Twinkies, avocados and the ultimate cholesterol-builder: A Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich. Yes, it's two deep-fried doughnuts with a chicken breast squashed between them.
"I can feel my arteries screaming at me," Cocoba joked.
Charlie Boghosian — aka "Chicken Charlie" — is the 300-pound man behind the creations. The 42-year-old Boghosian has spent two decades testing the limits of what can be cooked in grease and still taste good. Each year, he adds new, unusual items to his popular, bright-yellow and red food stand.
Boghosian said he has sold 100,000 fried Klondike bars last year and two million fried Oreo cookies over the past decade. But the $5.95 fried Kool-Aid is quickly becoming his top seller.
He says he has fried up 500 pounds of Kool-Aid powder so far.
"It's been huge," he said. "People are loving it."
Well, not everyone.
Chelsea Lightfoot scrunched up her nose at the thought.
"It just seems really weird," said the 23-year-old college student after buying a plate of fried zucchini at his stand. "Things like fried Kool-Aid, Twinkies, are kind of gross."
Many, though, relish in the experience of sinking their teeth into something so utterly unhealthy in complete rebellion against doctors' orders and societal pressures to eat fresh vegetables and low-fat foods.
"It's awesome," said Cindy Thornton, a 47-year-old waitress who was carting a bag of fried Kool-Aid balls to take home to her husband.
Boghosian is working up new recipes and has plans to come out with a cookbook.
"I just love how frying makes things crunchy on the outside and good on the inside," he said. "Food that's not fried can't compare."
And he joked: "We leave all the calories in the oil."