At the Addison County Fair in the Lake Champlain Valley of Vermont you’ll find pig races, haying demos and Thelma Miner’s fried dough with maple cream.
This is not a zeppole. It is not a funnel cake. Those are more like doughnuts. Vermont’s favorite fair food is a disc of ordinary bread dough, pounded flat and tossed into the fryer until it puffs, bubbles and browns.
When it comes out all glistening and golden, it’s topped with a scoop of maple cream, a light brown spread made by whipping maple syrup until it becomes thick as peanut butter. (America’s Test Kitchen shows you how.)
There’s a lot of fried dough at the fair, but in this part of Vermont, Thelma is queen. She started selling her dough from a truck in the late 1960s, says her granddaughter Emily Miner, and was a dough slinger for more than three decades.
“I never thought she would retire,” says 31-year-old Miner, who has taken over the business. Her grandmother, called “Nan” or “Nanny,” is 83.
Miner dishes out dough from a 16-passenger bus revamped as a food truck. The wheelchair lift became the service window. Working from photographs and her memory, she’s painted it to recall Thelma’s original cart, a 1964 armored car that her grandfather found in the Rutland Herald newspaper.
“My grandfather was funny,” Miner says. “He would just buy stuff and show up with it.”
Thelma got into “the dough biz,” as Miner says, after making it for a fundraiser. Happy patrons told her she should sell it, the legend goes, so they stuck a fryer in the armored car and set it up along Route 7, the highway that cuts through Vermont’s western corridor. Soon, Thelma was taking the dough cart to fairs and events.
When Miner and her fiancé, Noah Fleury, marry in October the truck will be there, she says, dishing up fried dough alongside the fancy sit-down dinner. Plans for their new life include taking the truck all over New England, spreading the gospel of fried dough and maple cream.
“It’s in my blood,” Miner says.