It may be a bit of a stereotype, and it may be something that we as Americans get mocked for, but there is no denying our passion for all things deep fried. Whether it’s at a state fair, local carnival or right here at the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore, deep-fried foods are some of our most treasured guilty pleasures. From funnel cakes to fried candy bars, we can’t seem to get enough of these unhealthy-yet-delicious snacks.
And in my treat-themed travels, I stumbled upon the perfect one-stop shopping experience to satisfy all of your deep-fried desires: Jilly’s French Fry Factory on the Ocean City Boardwalk. While some spots might feature one or two of these treasures, Jilly’s provided me the opportunity to create an entire deep-fried, three-course meal from a single glorious walk-up stand. Here’s what I got:
AppetizerChipStixx: Kicking things off with an appetizer, I couldn’t resist the visual temptation of their ChipStixx, which are a full spiral cut deep-fried potato on a stick. I went with the cheddar variety just to add a little twist to my ChipStixx experience. While the cheese flavor could have been stronger, the potato was crispy and nicely salted, and the whole presentation really makes these a lot of fun.
Main CourseHoney-battered corn dog: I love a good corn dog in the summer, and the one at Jilly’s stood out from the masses by incorporating a touch of sweetness into the batter, thanks to the honey. The sweet/savory concept worked nicely from a flavor perspective, and the batter’s crunchy exterior added a lovely bit of texture to each bite. A few squeezes of ketchup and I was happy as a clam (are clams really happy? What does that even mean?).
DessertFunnel cake: After all of that batter, I was in the mood for — you guessed it — more batter! So, naturally I ordered up one of my favorite boardwalk treats: The humble, yet beloved funnel cake.
When I was a kid, I always secretly wanted to be the guy who gets to make these because there seemed to be a certain amount of artistry and freedom involved in the pouring of the batter into the oil. I pictured myself creating dramatic and awe-inspiring designs, eventually earning universal acclaim around the world as a sort of boardwalk-battered version of Jackson Pollock. Needless to say, none of that happened.
Artistic fantasies aside, the funnel cake at Jilly’s was a slam dunk. You know you have a great dessert on your hands when the only topping needed is a simple dusting of powdered sugar. It was crunchy outside, doughy inside and enjoyable on every level.
Deep-fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: OK, so sue me, I got two desserts. Clearly this meal wasn’t themed around watching my waistline. Also, I have a personal rule about Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: I don’t turn them down. Ever. And a deep-fried one? Hell yeah!
What can I say? Obviously, it was awesome — a melty mess of all of the best flavors in the world, all dancing suggestively with one another like VIPs in some type of mid-pandemic version of Studio 54 taking place inside my mouth. But in fairness, could it really have turned out any other way? It’s a deep-fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for Christ’s sake. It was always destined for greatness. That is all.
Jilly’s French Fry Factory is located at 1034 Boardwalk in Ocean City. Go to JillysOCNJ.com.