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Des Moines Capitol Building
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  • States:
    Iowa

Game Changers: Moments that cause a significant shift in the way you currently think about something.

When it comes to food, we’ve probably all experienced a few game changers — meals that have changed the way we previously thought about certain dishes. In this vlog series, SORTEDfood a group of friends from London, will tour around the USA looking for exceptional food in exceptional places. In Des Moine, Iowa the gang will navigate one of the oldest and largest State Fairs in the country and go in search of the best ice cream on earth!

When I announced to friends, family and even our community members that we were going to Iowa, I was met with a fairly standard retort… Why?

And at the time, if I’m honest, I didn’t have a great response apart from explaining what we were doing there - spending 24 hours exploring the state capital, Des Moines, and using another day to go around the State Fair. Little did I know that I'd return home having experienced one of the most unique days of my life, and probably eating the best Ice Cream I’d ever had!! Let’s start with the State Fair.

Hot Air Balloon in Des Moines, Iowa
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If you’ve never been to a State Fair before, let me try to explain the scale of it… Run over 10 days, the State Fair pulled in over 1.1million attendees. That’s over 110,000 people every day, filling up the 445 acres of fairgrounds! There’s thrill rides, music concerts, contests, animal shows, agriculture stands, farming demonstrations, a life-size sculpture of a cow made out of butter… and to top it off, more than 200 food vendors selling some of the most crazy food you’ve ever seen - usually served to you on a stick!!

We ate EVERYTHING - pork chops on sticks, cheesecakes on sticks, deep fried twinkies on sticks, buckets of cookies, elephant ears, pork tenderloin sandwiches, shake up lemonades… The list was endless!

I could not recommend enough that you visit a State Fair - it’s a complete sensory overload and like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and as the Iowa State Fair advertises… Nothing compares!!

food at the Iowa state fair
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Now, did I really say earlier that I had the best ice cream EVER whilst in Des Moines, Iowa?! Yes - I really believe I did!

The team behind Black Cat Ice Cream say they set out to make the ‘best ice cream on Earth’, and I honestly think they might be close. Using local dairy and organic produce, Black Cat make their ice cream the old fashioned way - in small batches, but packed with BIG flavours!

Black Cat don’t just add flavours to their ice creams, they add complete dishes - so instead of the flavours of blueberry pancakes, there were actually delicious, fluffy blueberry pancakes folded into my ice cream - and the difference in flavour, texture and the entire eating experience was sensational!

Iowa state fair
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But it didn’t stop there, we had brown butter cookie dough, coffee and caramel donuts, vanilla and peanut butter pretzels… Every single ice cream was absolutely out of this world.

Needless to say, every pre-conception I had about Iowa was completely blown out of the water, and I have at least 10 answers to people who ask ‘why go to Iowa?’

mural in Iowa
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