Nothing brings you back to the feeling of a carnival like a funnel cake. At the Starving Actor, we have been bringing funnel cakes to the masses through our wildly successful food truck for years. Our restaurant continues this delicious tradition as well. But where did this delicacy originate from; who should we thank for the awesomeness that is the funnel cake?
A very early reference to funnel cakes comes from medieval cooking recipes using names such as mincebek, mistembec or cryspes. These names all refer to the batter being put into a spout or funnel. These early fritters were made with a yeast or sourdough batter, and instead of a funnel, were poured through a bowl with a hole in the bottom. They were not only sprinkled with sugar, but salt too; this resulted in a delicious salty-sweet treat.
Most people equate funnel cakes with German immigrants in Pennsylvania, who came to America in the 17th and 18th centuries. The actual legitimacy of this is unclear, but we do know that funnel cakes became wildly popular in the 1960s at the Kurtztown Folk Festival. This festival was held to promote the culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch, and was a great success. The funnel cakes were sold to attendees at the festival for 25 cents apiece; thousands were sold! Now funnel cakes are sold at every Pennsylvania Dutch festival, but they were not as widespread in popularity before the 1960s. They are mentioned in a Dutch recipe from 1916, but it is noted that they were reserved for Christmas and New Year’s, and were sold at church fairs and holiday markets. They were kept for these special occasions because they use eggs, which were scarce during winter.
Found Throughout Many Cultures
Although the funnel cake seems so iconically tied to the Dutch, and now to American carnival food, there are variations of this dessert throughout many other cultures. Churros, made popular in Spain, are cylinders of deep fried dough pressed through a star-shaped extruder. Beaver-tails are popular in Canada, and are oval-shaped fried dough, much like the Elephant Ear. Brazil has bolinho de chuvas, France has bugnes, Portugal has fartura; all of these are variations on fried, sweetened dough. It is hard to say exactly where funnel cakes are from when every culture seems to have latched on to the greatness of this sweet treat.
Whoever was the originator of the funnel cake, we thank them at the Starving Actor by continuing this tradition, and bringing awesome funnel cakes to our patrons. We have taken funnel cakes to a new level, and offer not only the traditional powdered sugar funnel cake, but some other great variations. Try the peach cobbler funnel cake, or the strawberry funnel cake to mix in some fruity goodness. If you are feeling really daring, our peanut butter and jelly funnel cake combines the best childhood sandwich with the best carnival dessert. We also have a chocolate and nutella funnel cake…they are all awesome! Keep the tradition of funnel cakes alive, and stop in at The Starving Actor today!
other great variations. Try the peach cobbler funnel cake, or the strawberry funnel cake to mix in some fruity goodness. If you are feeling really daring, our peanut butter and jelly funnel cake combines the best childhood sandwich with the best carnival dessert. We also have a chocolate and nutella funnel cake…they are all awesome! Keep the tradition of funnel cakes alive, and stop in The Starving Actor today!