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Reporter’s Notebook:

Curiosity caused the cardiac

Reporter visits Chicken Charlie’s, where two brothers fry just about anything for fairgoers who left diets at home.

July 23, 2008|By ALAN BLANK

They claim it's less fattening than a McDonald's Big Mac, but how could it be? A fried slab of chicken sandwiches between two halves of a jelly doughnut?

When Charlie Boghosian and his brother Tony, who run Chicken Charlie’s fried food stand at the Orange County Fair, had the culinary creation tested, it weighed in with slightly fewer calories than the Big Mac, Tony said.

But the Crispy Cream Sandwich, as it’s dubbed, and the other food at Chicken Charlie’s isn’t part of the latest weight-loss fad.

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“We try to tell people not to count calories; leave your diets at home. We tell them we fry the fat right out of the food,” Tony said.

When I visited the booth, I went for the new deep-fried stuff: SPAM, ravioli, Pop Tarts and frog legs.

Don’t worry. A paramedic was standing by in case of a coronary blockage.

Tony and Charlie pride themselves on being able to fry anything — it doesn’t even need to be a solid. They’ve fried amorphous materials and liquids like ice cream and cola. The brothers claim they have never been conquered, but it almost happened when they tried to deep fry a marshmallow. No matter what they tried, the mushy blob of sugar disintegrated instantly when it hit the oil.

Not to be bested, Charlie and Tony sandwiched the marshmallow between graham crackers with chocolate and covered it in a very heavy, heat-resistant batter for a deep fried s’more.

They got their start serving fried chicken at the fair about 12 years ago. About six years into it, they decided they needed some kind of dessert.

“The deep-fried Twinkie was the first of all of our crazy inventions,” Tony said. “It’s still the most popular thing we have.”

It seemed to be getting eclipsed by the deep-fried Oreos on Thursday. It wasn’t hard to see why. The combination of a chocolate, cream-filled cookie and crisp, starchy batter, covered in chocolate sauce reminded me of a chocolate-chip pancake.

I caught uncle Matt and dad Brett Miller, who were charged with caring for their nephew/son Seth, caving into the 5-year-old’s whims and ordering him four of the Oreos.

Seth’s mom was absent, and when I asked how she’d feel about it, they sheepishly grinned.

“What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” Matt said.

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