Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Elephant Ears

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Elephant ears with different toppings. By Arge300exx (Own work) [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know about you but as Canfield Fair time approaches, I find myself hankering for an elephant ear, or at least a few bites of one! This was always the perfect snack food for an afternoon at the fair. You could stroll down one of the midways with your friends and share one of these all around. The light, crispy fried dough with sugar and cinnamon on top was absolutely delectable, and after you finished the ear, there was the finger licking! And there was always enough to go around for at least four of you, and if you wanted more, someone else in your group could buy.

I never worked at one of the concessions, but I can only imagine that this was hot work, rolling out dough and pulling ears out of the frying oil. I also suspect that it was pretty hard to avoid a few burns, hopefully none severe. God bless those folks who worked all day to serve us up such tasty fair food.

Of course there are a number of recipes online for how to make these at home. Here is a video from AllRecipes posted on YouTube. My mouth was watering just watching them make this. I liked the idea of 6 tablespoons of shortening or butter in this recipe (and then more butter on top of the fried dough which helps the sugar and cinnamon mix to stick).

This is another one of those foods that goes under a variety of names. At the Canfield Fair, you wouldn’t know what people were talking about if you called them anything other than elephant ears. But they are also called fried dough (which is what they are but not particularly imaginative), doughboys, fry bread, scones (unlike the scones I’m familiar with), flying saucers (I can see that), beaver tails, buñuelos, and pizza fritte. I kind of like beaver tails but wonder if they are shaped differently to look more like a beaver tail.

After you finished the elephant ear, it was time to wash it down with a lemon shake-up (more sugar!).  Together, they made for the perfect treat on a hot fair afternoon, not too heavy on the stomach for all those rides, and not to hard on the wallet either.

If you make it to the Fair this year, eat an elephant ear for me!

4 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Elephant Ears

  1. Bob
    Love the Elephant Ears and also crave the sausage sandwiches and fair fries. Hope to be home in Canfield for the event.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Michelle

  2. Even after over fifty years and a lot of other fairs I still miss the Canfield fair. The food, the animals and marching in the Band Show at the grandstand. Yep — an to be sixteen again and march around the fairgrounds in long wool pants!!

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