Frying High

Q: What are some of the more bizarre foods we’ll see at the Central Florida Fair?

A: Although the lineup hadn’t been finalized by press time, it’s safe to say there will be plenty of deep-fried OMG! Marketing director Wil Price watches other fairs around the country to see what’s popular and then brings in vendors selling many of those items. Hits of the past few years have included the Krispy Kreme burger (a cheeseburger with bacon on a Krispy Kreme doughnut “bun’’—1,500 calories) and fried butter on a stick (only 400 calories, but 45 grams of saturated fat). Price says fried Kool-Aid also caught on last year (“quite tart’’). Fried Snickers is a crowd pleaser, as are fried Twinkies (word is that vendors around the country were snatching up the delicacy after Hostess Brands shut down late last year).

Minnesota State Fair

Vendor Richie George, owner of George’s Fun Foods near Tampa, says the red velvet funnel cake is the next big thing (“you can’t eat just one of them’’). Deep-fried Oreos are must-haves, too. Right now, adds George, “there are deep-fried crickets,” although it’s unclear whether they’ll hop their way to Orlando.

Certainly the traditional fair foods also will be plentiful along the O-town midway—corn dogs, candied apples, cotton candy and the like. It’s all great fun. Still, Answer Man has always found the greasy-queasy connection of fair food disturbing. That humans would gorge on artery-clogging concoctions and then eagerly jar their insides around minutes later on the Himalaya simply defies logic. But Wil Price has a theory.

“The fair plays to the child in all of us,’’ he says. “It’s like when you’re a kid, you shouldn’t eat that much sugar or you shouldn’t jump off the bridge because your friends did. I think it’s just living life to the extreme and putting as many things in your body and doing as many things as you can, even though you know you’re gonna hurt and want to throw up in 15 minutes.’’

Orlando, your 15 minutes of fame awaits Feb. 28-March 10 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds. Be there.

Q: What is Orlando’s official tourism slogan?

A: “Orlando Makes Me Smile’’—four simple words that have clicked with vacationers from Rochester to Rio, says Danielle Courtenay, chief marketing officer for Visit Orlando, the area’s tourism bureau. (Visit Orlando “proactively markets’’ in 14 countries, she says.)

The agency’s marketing strategy is like a layer cake. There’s the underlying theme, which is “Where Relationships Thrive.’’ Spinning off of that is the “Smile’’ slogan for tourists, while themes of “Inspiration’’ are designed to draw convention business. Then there have been various campaigns in the past decade, including “Built for Families, Made for Memories’’ and “Say Yes to Orlando.’’ But as far as official slogans, there have been only three: “Go for the Magic’’ in 1991; “Orlando: You Never Outgrow It’’ in 1996; and the current “Orlando Makes Me Smile,’’ developed by the local Push ad agency and trotted out in 2009. And this one seems to be a keeper.

“It’s a very easy concept for people to get,’’ Courtenay says. “If you watch people talk about Orlando and their time here, you will see them smile.’’

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