The county fair has always been the place to go for real American food, with vendors selling favorites like corn dogs, cotton candy, and of course all things deep fried.
But one man takes frying foods to the next level. And he’s got a great, catchy name—Chicken Charlie.
Chicken Charlie has been deep frying food for almost 30 years, showcasing his weird and wonderful creations at fairs across the state of California. When Charlie started, he focused on roasted chicken, calling his trailer "pressure fried chicken." It wasn't until a friend suggested that he change the name to "Chicken Charlie" that the fried magic began.
Chicken Charlie, whose real name is Charlie Boghosian, became fascinated with deep frying after watching his mother cook. One day he saw an advertisement in his hometown for the San Diego County Fair and went down to the fairgrounds and asked the first person he saw for a job. Working for the fair gave him a taste for the traveling carnival lifestyle.
Chicken Charlie says he always admired Elvis Presley’s life, particularly his role in the movie "Roustabout" where Elvis joins a travelling circus.
“I thought how cool was that?! I never thought I was going to end up with a similar lifestyle from traveling from place to place cooking and serving people food that I invented and came up with.”
Now he fries Elvis’s favorite sandwich—peanut butter, bananas and honey sandwich. Of course, with all the delicious fried foods comes all the bad things like high cholesterol, blood pressure and the calories. But Chicken Charlie’s fried inventions are worth it, so take a bite and break your diet rules.
If you've got inhuman willpower and you don't want to indulge, there's a healthier option: Chicken Charlie’s chicken kabobs with fresh breast meat, onions and bell peppers, which are under 400 calories. “People always trip out. They come over and say ‘what are you frying now?’ When I tell them, they don’t believe it. The deep-fried White Castle cheeseburger, deep fried olives, deep fried asparagus, deep fried Klondike ice cream, the Twinkies, the Oreos,” exclaimed Chicken Charlie.
Chicken Charlie’s most famous inventions are deep fried Kool-Aid and his personal favorite, deep fried Oreo cookies.
Charlie usually cooks about 20 different items, with each one having a slightly different batter designed to create the perfect taste.
“It makes me feel so good, there’s nothing better than feeding people and especially having them enjoy it. When you’ve created it from nothing it’s the best thing in the world,” he said.
Chicken Charlie spends six months out of the year working at home on new ideas, fixing the equipment and the trailers. The other six months is spent travelling to different fairs, but he says his time is spent with the people how try his food.
“There’s really not much time hanging out at hotels like a rock star and going from place to place you know tearing up the place drinking alcohol!” he said. He prefers a business that travels rather than owning a restaurant where he feels stuck in that same location.
“It jazzes it up, there’s more challenges out here. Of course, equipment breaks every time you move it, there are different people all the time and we’re always inventing new things. I want to share it with different folks and I like that we’re moving constantly and regularly,” he said.
What’s next for Chicken Charlie? Deep fried Jack Daniels. But his new creation won’t come out until next season.