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Fair time: How about a deep-fried olive on a stick?

The lakes area's own Helmer family won best new fair food last year with their deep-fried olives. The Fried Fruit on-a-Stick is back at the state fair this year by the grandstand.

The lakes area's own Helmer family were noted in this month's Better Homes and Gardens to mark the arrival of state fair season, also known as food-on-a-stick season.

The Helmers will be back at the Minnesota State Fair with their deep-fried olives, which won best new food chosen by WCCO television, last year.

The queen green olives are stuffed with cream cheese and deep fried in a special seasoned batter. Carol Helmer said many people didn't realize the olive was a fruit.

The Helmer family has worked in the concession business for more than 20 years. Fred and Carol Helmer had a retail store providing frozen foods before they moved into the concession business. Their deep-fried fruit was years in the making to perfect the right mix and taste. Then the Helmers were faced with the daunting task of being accepted as a concession stand by the fair.

They applied for 14 years before they were finally accepted in 2007.

They had a brightly colored concession trailer custom made for them and developed an entire list of fruit snacks on a stick. Their idea for fried and fresh fruit brought a new element to fair foods.

They said the idea for fried fruit came when their daughter Alison, then age 14, dropped her lunch of grapes into batter and deep fried them.

Grapes, strawberries, pineapple, banana, apples and peaches are all on the list to be placed in a sweet batter and deep fried. Carol Helmer described the result as a warm pie on a stick. Toppings include powdered sugar, cinnamon with sugar or chocolate. They expanded the menu to include fruit smoothies with or without ice cream and fresh fruit bowls, and then added a fruity salsa served cinnamon and sugar chips.

Fried Fruit on-a-Stick is near the State Fair Grandstand. Working the fair continues to be a family affair for the Helmers.