Cindy Zaker pulls a batch of french fries from a deep fryer at Franks Famous French Fries, one of her concession stands at the Hancock County Fair. Zaker said she typically goes through 14 50-pound bags of potatoes a day at this fair. (Photo by Randy Roberts)
Cindy Zaker pulls a batch of french fries from a deep fryer at Franks Famous French Fries, one of her concession stands at the Hancock County Fair. Zaker said she typically goes through 14 50-pound bags of potatoes a day at this fair. (Photo by Randy Roberts)

By MAX FILBY
STAFF WRITER

That fluffy, crispy french fry may be one piece of more than 700 pounds of potatoes.

Cindy Zaker, owner of Frank’s Famous French Fries, typically goes through 14 50-pound bags of potatoes a day at the Hancock County Fair, and has gone through as many as 40 bags in a day at other fairs and festivals. That amounts to one ton of potatoes or 2,000 pounds.

“We cut them all fresh and we use the finest frying oil,” Zaker said.

Zaker doesn’t buy frozen potatoes. Instead, she gets potatoes from all the way out in Idaho if she has to.

Zaker promises her customers that the potatoes and the high-grade soybean oil they’re cooked in are a step above the competition.

The ingredients, especially the oil, Zaker argued, are what make her fries taste great and mean customers don’t have to add extra salt and condiments.

“We have a special flavor some of them don’t have,” Zaker said of her french fries.

Zaker also boasted about her corn dogs, as she uses more of a “sweet corn muffin mix” which pairs well with the saltiness of a hot dog, she said.

Zaker’s french fry business was started by her father, Frank Isch. Her grandfather originally got her family into the fair food business in 1934.

“So, it’s in my blood,” Zaker said.

Her father was also the one who suggested Zaker start making and selling her own funnel cakes. Zaker now serves them at her stand called Cindy’s Concessions.

Unlike some other stands, Zaker makes her funnel cake dough from scratch. That means she stocks up on ingredients based on how many cakes she sold at a certain fair the previous year.

Zaker simply stops by the grocery store to pick up 10 dozen eggs, 30 bags of flour, 10 bags of sugar, vanilla, milk and other “secret” ingredients.

Unlike Zaker, Bill Griffin orders the ingredients for his food in bulk.

Griffin, whose booths sell elephant ears, funnel cakes and other treats, has served fairgoers in Hancock County for 35 years.

At first, Griffin said, he had to shop around to find the best ingredients at the best price.

Now, Griffin buys one ton, or 2,000 pounds, of flour at a time.

One of Griffin’s most popular items is deep-fried Oreos. He isn’t even sure how many Oreos he buys in bulk but said it could be in the thousands.

“You can never have too much,” Griffin said. “You just need enough so you don’t run out.”

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