The Calgary Stampede [Food Special]

Fun With Despair
A while back on the discord, someone happened to post the listings for the "new midway food" at the Calgary Stampede, something that most people had a good laugh over. I, however, said myself that I would venture forth to try some of these strange concoctions for the gang, sacrificing my own physical and mental health in order to provide content for the unwashed masses.

For those not in the know, the Calgary Stampede is a yearly Alberta event akin to a large, overblown state fair. By which I mean that largely it is an invitation for loud cowboy LARPers to get drunk and be annoying on public transit for a week. I don't particularly like the Calgary Stampede, but I'll do anything for a good shit on this blasted wasteland of a website, so off I ventured into a crowded, miserable hell for like 5 hours.

@Kright came along as well on this adventure, albeit mostly because food at the Calgary Stampede is extremely expensive and she was willing to split the bill in exchange for some garrison clout. Also because going to the Calgary Stampede alone is a terrible experience as it is very loud, crowded, and there's nowhere to sit down so you practically need someone to hold your food and it's simply more amusing to have someone there for your reaction to consuming something strange.

Anyway, let us begin...

Cotton Candy Lemonade

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When I arrived on the scene, it was very hot. Mostly because it is the summer, go figure. Right off the bat though, I found one of the items on the new midway food list by the entrance, and thankfully the line wasn't very long at all. Frankly, I don't know what I was exactly expecting from the Cotton Candy Lemonade, but at the end of the day it didn't really taste like anything more than just a fairly sweet pink lemonade. It was good, mind you, but nothing surprising, which is about what I expected.

To be fair, as you got deeper into the cup, it did taste somewhat more of cotton candy as the flavor syrup began to take up more of each sip, but it still remains just a pretty basic lemonade at the end of the day. Nothing amazing, but pretty good. It cost $6.00, which for the extremely high price of midway food isn't terrible, and it was a rather good size as well, which gives it some points.


Honey Habanero Ice Pop

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Next up on my quest to stop dying of heatstroke was another entry on the new midway foods page: the honey habanero ice pop. I had significant hope for this one to be pretty good, as I like honey, and I like habaneros. I've had several habanero-themed things that pulled off a very pleasant blend of sweetness and spice due to the fruity flavor of the pepper, and I expected this to be about the same.

Instead, I found it to be pretty bland. The popsicle itself tastes more like honey water with a pepper aftertaste and some mild spice than anything else. When I say "honey water" I mean that the honey tasted kind of diluted and not very strong, and when I say a "pepper aftertaste", I mean an aftertaste that tastes like you bit into a bell pepper afterwards. Any fruity notes that the habanero pepper have are lost here, which is a shame.

It wasn't very good, but it wasn't bad or anything at all. Actually, it was... sort of refreshing, but I'm not sure if that's due to the popsicle or due to the fact that it was fucking hot out. It, like the lemonade, also cost $6.00, which is probably fine for a novelty item even if I could get a whole burger or something at A&W for that price.


As a brief intermission... You may be wondering why I only tried the food, because as a playground garrison, you'd probably be expecting some rides, right? Well, the thing with the Calgary Stampede is that the lines for everything are ungodly fucking long and unless you pay $25.00 for the FastPass equivalent (and you still have to buy ride tickets on top of that...), I elected not to bother because almost all of them are the same shitty rides you get at every carnival.

The other reason, is that as I was in search of something else to try, I saw this neat double-decker merry-go-round. As I looked closer though, my eyes focused on the hidden horror of the scene, an abomination that simply did not belong.

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What the FUCK is that kangaroo?

Every single other animal in this thing is realistically rendered, matching closely enough to a real life depiction of the animal in question, but then we have this unholy meth addict of a creature, neon blue eyes staring forward in an empty gaze as it continues its endless circular march. I'm sure it's just taken from some other merry-go-round after the original horse or whatever that was supposed to be here broke down, but in the moment it felt like I was witnessing a real-life SCP or something.

Ignore the dimensional anomaly in the bottom right corner as well, it was my phone's attempt to automatically erase two old people and a child that ran into the picture. As those are both groups that I hate, I asked it to edit them out. It tried its best. Anyway, back to the scheduled programming.

Deep Fried Oreo Stuffed Donuts

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This is the sort of shit that pops into your mind when you think of greasy-ass carnival food. It was, as you'd expect, greasy ass carnival food. Very sweet and rich-tasting, but actually pretty good. You can probably imagine what this tastes like, which is just a donut with a soft melty oreo inside. It was drizzled with icing too, which I felt was sort of overkill as these were already damn sweet.

The dough was nice and flaky, and they were dense and pretty filling overall, but they sort of sat in my stomach like I'd eaten a kitchen sponge or three. I would recommend these overall, I think, especially as much like the other two, these were also $6.00, which made them probably the best value of the event so far. Just maybe make sure you can find a place to sit down for a bit afterwards.


Pickle Lemonade

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Yeah yeah, again with the damn lemonades. I needed something to wash down the kitchen sponges with, and while reading the new midway foods again, I came across something called "Bad Breath Lemonade", which was basically lemonade with garlic. While it sounded a bit obscene, I was intrigued as garlic and lemon is a pretty good combination generally. Unfortunately, I couldn't for the life of me find the place that had it and had to settle for second best (worst?): the Pickle Lemonade.

It sucked ass.

Not because the pickle made it gross or anything, quite the opposite actually. Going into the pickle lemonade, I expected it to have pickle juice or something, but no. As I watched the dude behind the counter make it, I realized it was just shitty lemonade made with store-bought lemon juice with some dill flakes and three relatively bland pickle slices tossed into the cup. A far cry from the fresh squeezed cotton candy lemonade.

It didn't even taste like pickle at all and it had one single ice cube in the entire cup. It was just bland lemonade.

AND IT COST ME $12.00.

What a fucking ripoff in every sense of the word.


Classic Beef Burger

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This thing was fucking RAW, I could practically hear it mooing at me. Whatever bloody donkey was working the kitchen that day should lose his fucking job.


Watermelon Puree

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For once, I was glad to have an assistant as this thing was pretty heavy, being half a watermelon and all and therefore hard to get a picture of if you're the one holding it. It is pretty much exactly what it says in the name, watermelon that's been blended up finely and poured back into the mostly-scooped-out rind. It is a pretty fun idea actually, but it tasted just like watermelon that's been blended up finely and poured back into the mostly-scooped-out rind.

Now, I didn't pay for this one so I don't actually know what it cost, but apparently getting it in the rind rather than a cup cost an extra $4.00 on top of whatever it cost, which seems rather absurd. They already have to scoop the rind out to make the damn thing, what else are they going to do with it, throw it away? That being said it did taste good and you could scrape a fair amount of extra melon from the sides, which might be worth something to someone.

It is however, again, rather heavy to be carrying around a fairground, and therefore quite inconvenient to drink. It's also pretty refreshing and tasty provided you like melon though, so I can't hate on it.


Butter Chicken Perogies

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After consuming nothing but liquids, desserts, and greasy junk, I decided it was time for some actual food. After waiting in line for like 20 minutes for some fries and realizing the line was never moving at all, it was off to the slightly less populated perogy stand. Though they are traditionally named as "Pierogi" according to whatever crazy Russian invented the idea of putting mashed potato inside of a pastry, I'm using the language the stand in question used for authenticity's sake.

They had a myriad of flavors including a lime popcorn shrimp variety and several themed after various nations of the world. I settled on the butter chicken ones though because they sounded just odd enough to be interesting but just normal enough to still be good.

They were pretty good! The sauce was nice, the chicken was tender, and the onions mixed in with the sauce were freshly-grilled and caramelized on the edges. The perogies were miniature ones that I had never personally encountered before, but as a result they were a good size that made the dish feel bigger than it actually was. At only $12.00, these were a steal too. I'd order them at an actual restaurant probably.


Dream Home Playground

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Every year at this thing, they have the "dream home lottery", which is basically a raffle you can enter to win a big fancy house. I did not enter because tickets are expensive and the house is pretty far away from where I live now, but out back I found this playground. It was off limits to touch, but I was able to assess it from afar.

While being mostly constructed of wood, it forgoes the metal slides that traditionally follow wooden playgrounds in favor of a yellow plastic one, which may be somewhat of a downgrade as the plastic did not look particularly slippery. Also made of yellow plastic is a meme wheel that sits within the very small roof-covered main area of the playground. While I wasn't able to see how it spins, rather than being a cheap piece of shit it appears to resemble a large captain's wheel, which at least has some soul.

Underneath the playground is an entire picnic table, which is a great idea, though one side is unfortunately a bit too close to the climbing wall's rear and therefore probably doesn't have much sitting room if you are tall. The climbing wall itself looks pretty good though, so I can't complain.

Finally, though none of them made it into the photo, there are two swings at the opposite end of the slide, one being a traditional swing and the other being some rope-covered disc you sit on and swing on. Probably not bad, though they appeared to be too low to the ground for adult use. There's another swing-like object concealed at the opposite end of the playground from the climbing wall as well, consisting of just some chain-mounted monkeybars you can swing on, but they are also too low to the ground.

Overall, I'm not impressed. It is simply too small to do much on, and was clearly built with short people in mind. It has some good ideas, but if I was a kid and my parents won the dream home, I would be more enthused with the idea of being in a big ass house than this playground that comes with it.


Cowboy Coffee

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I'm not actually sure if this place was called Cowboy Coffee or not but the cup has two C's on it and there's a cowboy on the stand. Anyway, I ordered something called a "Shot in the Dark", which was a regular coffee except with an espresso shot put inside. It was actually a pretty great coffee at the end of the day, but I'm left without too much to say beyond the fact that the price was pretty reasonable for this thing at about $3.50, which is the price of a regular coffee at some hipster-ass coffee shops.

The service was fast, the coffee was good, there was very little to complain about besides the fact that even their large size was a bit small for my liking. It was also however just a normal damn coffee and not weird fairground food so I'm not going to give it a great score.


Mac and Cheese Soft Serve

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Alright. This is the moment I'm sure some have been waiting for. This thing is probably the most infamous of the New Midway Foods page, and it was a fucking bitch to find, let me tell you. I was basically getting ready to leave by the time I finally found the dipshits selling this. But find them I did, and as I approached the stand, I knew I had sealed my doom.

...Now, I fully understand if what I'm about to tell you gets me excommunicated from this place, straight up burned at the stake. But... I actually kind of liked this.

Whoa, whoa. Put away your torches and pitchforks, let me explain. It actually barely tastes like cheese at all, and there's certainly no mac. The promo pictures for this thing portray it as this bright orange monstrosity and I was expecting it to just fuck my ass with the taste of cheese and salt like cheap mac and cheese usually does, but instead, it mostly just tasted like a vanilla cone. A pretty good vanilla cone, at that.

There was a slight aftertaste of the kind of flavor powder you put into macaroni and cheese, but it wasn't strong at all and after the first few tastes where I thought it was weird, it sort of grew on me because it's more of just a vague savory taste than actually anything resembling proper cheese. Almost made it taste a bit like salted cheesecake or something. It also cost only $5.00, which is the cheapest thing yet.


Crazy Tongue Pizza

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This is the other thing I spent most of the event looking for, and also the literal last thing I was able to find at the same time. Funny how that works, huh? The Crazy Tongue Pizza is your standard barbecue pizza except with some chipotle sauce and braised beef tongue as the topping. It was also probably the best thing I'd had so far. The beef was very tender, the sauce was great, the crust was crispy, and the pizza overall was great.

There might be some contention over the pineapple, but it was not soggy at all and it added to the barbecue flavor fairly well. I feel like you could probably easily pick them off as well with no real impact on the actual flavor of the pizza. The crust was sort of closer to a crispy flatbread than a proper pizza, but I didn't really care as I like both anyway.

Regardless, at only $12.00, the same as the fucking Pickle Lemonade, the portions are a total steal here. This thing not only tasted great, but you got a lot for the price considering that the slices were rather large. I ate my fill and was still able to take two pieces home. Overall, this is my strongest recommendation yet, especially for the value compared to some of the other shit here.


And so concludes my time at the Calgary Stampede. Good? Bad? I dunno. It was hot out, it was loud, and all the lines were woefully long, but at least I got a variety of food out of it. In case anyone's wondering why I never tried some shit like the "cricket hot dog", it actually wasn't because it was gross or anything, but because those bastards were charging fucking $20.00 for a hot dog with some crickets on top. Just ridiculous price gouging there especially for something most people don't want anyway.

As we were trying to find a place to sit down earlier though, Kright and I came across this big plastic cow who was just absurdly thick and wide. To call him an "absolute unit" would be understatement. He was a titan. A god. So we took a picture with him, in the spirit of the old playground reviews where I used to post a live selfie reaction to the events that transpired, before I started writing all of them at work or taking photos in the middle of horrible windstorms. Unfortunately the cow doesn't look that wide in the picture though, so fuck me I guess. Just trust me on this one. He was big.

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Until next time, dipshits.
sounds extremely fucked up but in a cool/fun way
1/10 review for giving a pizza with pineapple on it a 9/10

would have been a 10 otherwise because i think you should do more of these if you ever can alongside the park reviews. you'll eventually become a food blogger if you do keep it up so ymmv
props on having the cajones to try out bad breath lemonade tho
Fun With Despair
(Jul 15, 2022 at 8:39 PM)Pea Wrote: 1/10 review for giving a pizza with pineapple on it a 9/10

would have been a 10 otherwise because i think you should do more of these if you ever can alongside the park reviews. you'll eventually become a food blogger if you do keep it up so ymmv
hey it was a good pizza otherwise, maybe thats why there's a point missing and it's not 10 huh?

anyway I'll probably do subsequent years I think because this was fun. there's not really any weird food to try besides this shit-show so it'll have to be annual
Calgary isn't real. What the FUCK is this

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Fun With Despair
(Jul 15, 2022 at 9:00 PM)Hearts Wrote: Calgary isn't real. What the FUCK is this

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i dunno but the line for those was so long that i guess they must have been... edible?
Honestly I can imagine it tasting alright if you just remove the cotton candy and take turns taking a bite of each part, get a lil sweet and savory thing going on. Still had a visceral reaction to the absurdity of the image though. Whose idea was this
why does kright look like the cow is holding her hostage
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that kangaroo looks like he leads to the no fludd level
i'm actually disappointed that most of these didn't properly live up to the gimmick they presented and were kinda just normal shit but with a very slight amount of something else in them

major props to you (and kright) for going out and sampling these with those prices and lines though good lord. fuck that shit, there's nothing that makes me angrier about tourist attractions and the like than the sheer audacity of the price levels they set things at. $20 for a fuckin cricket hot dog, criminy.

the watermelon puree is kind of genuinely rad but, an extra $4 for getting it in the actual novelty form, for what purpose. as you said, what the hell else are they going to be using the rest of the watermelon for?

the crazy tongue pizza does indeed seem like the best part of this whole deal, the price is reasonable enough and it seems solid. pineapple pizza is, well, pineapple pizza, but the rest of it anyways and i theoretically could understand how the pineapple would offset some of the other aspects of it.
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