2011.08.17 Deep fried butter beats $90 per person meal

Written by David Green.


It’s countdown time to my 35th high school reunion this fall.

My yearbook sits in front of my computer and every now and then I scan the list of those attending so I can look them up and see if I remember who they are. There were 822 students in my graduating class of 1976, but so far, only 95 people are attending the reunion—and that includes spouses and some people from the Class of 1977. 

They were invited to join us; I’m not sure why exactly. But whenever I see a name on the list that I don’t know, I get a little ticked off. They’re just cluttering up the list, these young’uns. They’re not in my yearbook (no room for underclassmen); they ought to just have their own reunion. Still, there are lots of people who actually were in my class and I don’t know them at all either.

John Bowne High School is one of New York City’s specialized high schools. It offers agriculture, horticulture, and small animal care programs. Eighth and ninth grade students have to apply to get in, but it’s also a regular district high school full of kids from the neighborhood. 

Those of us in the agriculture program, referred to as Aggies, were a pretty tight-knit group since we took two classes of agriculture together every day of high school and bonded over collecting eggs from the 500 White Leghorns in the chicken house behind the school. In “If you go, I’ll go” fashion, a bunch of my old Aggie friends decide to attend the reunion. 

Now, as it gets closer, and we consider the $90 per person fee and all the weight we need to lose in 40 days, we’re wondering why we didn’t just have our own little Aggie reunion. The 10 of us could have met at a nice restaurant and had our own—cheaper—reunion. Reason number one is that we’d probably never organize it. Paying the 90 bucks ensures we’ll show up. So, instead of grumbling, I’m getting prepared. 

I haven’t lost a single ounce of the nearly 35 pounds I’d have to shed to return to my high school weight, but I’m studying the names of those attending more carefully. I don’t want to appear demented for not remembering anybody. Demetrios Theophanous? Did I know him? He’s not in my yearbook...must be from the Class of ’77. 

From Joann Alfano to Walter Ziegler, I recognize only 28 of the 95 names, not including myself. But then I look up Stuart Caspi and Michael Newman and discover they’re not at all who I thought they were. 

Gail Ledgin? I don’t recall her name at all. It’s only when I look to see if she’s from the Class of ’77 that I discover her photo right next to mine in the yearbook. Gray-haired, overweight—and suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s—that’s how I’m showing up.

My friend Sondra calls to discuss travel arrangements and our plans to stay at a hotel in the city. I ask her if she’s seen Liz’s Facebook post of a YouTube link: “Iowa State Fair Now Selling Deep Fried Butter.”

“I have no words for this,” Liz comments in her post.

The video shows someone sticking a stick into a stick of butter, dipping it in cinnamon and honey-laden batter, followed by dipping it in a deep fryer, and then slathering it with icing.

“Everything is fried at the fair,” Sondra says. “I think Paula Deen started it.”

Later, Sondra sends me a link to a news article. “Everything, and we mean everything, gets fried at the Orange County Fair” reads the headline from the Los Angeles Times article.

“...one booth, located just inside the main entrance, emerged as the clear crowd favorite: the fried butter stand. Decorated with a photo of a nurse with two defibrillator paddles ready, the stand features larger-than-life photos of its menu offerings: battered and fried bacon; bacon dipped in chocolate, then battered and fried; fried bacon sandwiches; fried grilled cheese; fried quesadilla strips; and something called the coronary combo that included the fried butter and chocolate covered bacon for $10.50.” 

“You can taste the heart attack, but it’s worth it,” says the guy who mans the cash register.

Heart attack aside, that would be perfect for an Aggie reunion—we could just meet at the New York State Fair and save ourselves $79.50.

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