It seems barely a year ago that, in these very pages, I managed to insult half of the population of Scotland, my alma mater, over the attribution of the origins of deep-fried Snickers bars. You see, these greasy little packets of suicide-by-calories had just made their debut on the state fair circuit. Sightings had been reported as far away as Alaska and Alabama, and their very existence was causing quite a stir amongst aficionados of fried dough-like objects. Such was the excitement, indeed, that acres of pine forest were dedicated to their rapturous promotion. America appeared to be on the edge of a cultural and gastronomic epiphany. In writing about these fried monstrosities (which my significant other had so aptly likened to wadded up Kleenex), I had mistakenly attributed their origins to the noble city of Glasgow, the onetime International City of Culture, when I should in fact have known that they hailed from Aberdeen, a rough and tumble oil town on the northeast coast. My sincere apologies go to the inhabitants of Glasgow, their friends and colleagues and anyone who may be visiting there in a misguided search for the Holy Grail of Snickerdom. This year there will be no such errors or omissions as I report that the latest deep-fried horror to rear its head at the Indiana State Fair, and one that will doubtless cause quite a stir, is the deep-fried Twinkie. This can be found at the Zeppoles stand, where you can also purchase deep-fried doughnut-like objects which, once tasted, are never forgotten. Now, at this point I need to confess that I have never, ever eaten even a bite of a Twinkie. I think that my aversion comes from seeing Bruce Willis read the ingredients in the first Die Hard movie. Not wishing to sacrifice principles for journalistic integrity, I decided not to try the deep-fried version, either. Instead, I canvassed friends and members of the public for their opinions, which ranged from “like a hot creamy doughnut” to “something I once saw in a slasher movie” (this last comment referred to the raspberry sauce garnish, I think). And so, wading past (and through) the perennial favorites like soggy sweet corn, gut-stopping elephant ears (the manufacturers of Imodium should take a serious look at these), watery lemon shake-ups and cute little lambs and their lamb burgers, we arrive at another significant new addition to this year’s fair, the St. Elmo’s Shrimp Cocktail. For $7 or $11 you can treat yourself to either three or five jumbo shrimp with a serving of the steakhouse’s by now quite famous horseradish cocktail sauce. This stuff brings quite a sweat to your brow, and is a relative bargain when compared to some of the other egregiously priced items on a stick that pervade the Midway. In a minor concession to the nation’s collective health, the Pork Producers’ tents are offering a “Freedom Wrap” for $4.50, which includes a generous serving of sliced pork (the other white meat) and various wholesome veggies. It’s so good to see that the French are getting into the spirit of things again. In between sessions of wanton engorgement, it’s worth checking out the various competitions in the big pavilion. Here you will see vegetables of gargantuan proportions, fragrant honeys and various locally-produced alcoholic beverages. With one of the country’s largest wine competitions, the Indiana State Fair is now a significant stop on the contest circuit for those wineries that choose to enter such things. It has to be said, though, that, despite the enormous numbers of entries, and the respectability of some of the judges, the overall quality of the wines in competition isn’t exactly in the A-league. In fact, many of the better international entries found themselves at the bottom of the ratings, which has to call into question the experience of some of the judges and the validity of such events in general. More about this at a later date. The Indiana State Fair offers us an opportunity, once a year, to indulge ourselves in a delightfully uncompromising and hedonistic fashion. Those who spend their days counting fat calories and monitoring their waistlines in millimeters can probably afford at least this one annual indulgence. It must be said, however, that I ask myself frequently after such escapades precisely how hedonistic is an acute attack of the gaseous vapors and prolonged stomach cramps? If your cholesterol is under 300 and your blood pressure below stroke level, then by all means, go ahead and indulge. Otherwise, enjoy the State Fair food with caution and respect. At least it doesn’t carry a government health warning. Yet. Hear Neil Charles each Friday at 9 a.m. on WXNT-AM, 1430.