NPR Political Journalist Finds Joy In Iowa In A Pig On A Stick

Mitt Romney eats a pork chop on a stick at the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 11, 2011. i i

hide captionMitt Romney eats a pork chop on a stick at the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 11, 2011.

Charles Dharapak/AP
Mitt Romney eats a pork chop on a stick at the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 11, 2011.

Mitt Romney eats a pork chop on a stick at the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 11, 2011.

Charles Dharapak/AP

NPR's Don Gonyea, a national political correspondent, checked in Thursday as he prepared to head from Des Moines to Ames, IA to cover the Republican presidential debate.

The Iowa State Fair is known for its improbably deep-fried versions of various foods on a stick, including butter. Yes, deep-fried butter.

Don Gonyea holds deep-fried butter on a stick.

hide captionDon Gonyea holds deep-fried butter on a stick.

Debbie Elliott /NPR

Don, being the curious journalist he is, tried it. As was heard to say in a Morning Edition piece, there was a lesson for politicians in the deep-fried butter on a stick. "You can go too far with an idea."

The pork-chop on a stick elicited an entirely different reaction from Don, however. He told me during a phone call:

I just had the pork chop on a stick and it sounds like I'm setting the cuisine bar pretty low. But I'm not.

It's probably the best meal I've had on the road in two years in all the time I've followed candidates around.

I assume it's broiled. It's trimmed. There's no bone. You pay $6 and they hand this thing to you. I have gone to very nice restaurants and ordered the chop and it wasn't as good as this.

Everything that the deep fried butter on a stick is not, the pork chop on a stick is.

I'm heading up to Ames for the debate and what typically happens is, after the drive and the debate, I'll at some point realize I haven't eaten and go around looking for a fast-food restaurant.

I've decided that this time I'm going to get another pork chop on a stick for another $6 and put it in my bag and my dinner problem will be solved.

The pork chop on a stick is apparently the meal of frontrunners, too. Mitt Romney was spotted eating one Thursday.

Sounds like if you're in anywhere near Des Moines, it might be worth standing in line to get your hands on one of these pigs on a stick. Or two, if you're planning ahead like Don.

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