State Fair & Small Business – A Sweet Match

Caramel apples are a classic State Fair treat – a staple that many fairgoers would consider a “must eat” at the fair. And no one does a more over-the-top caramel apple than Miss Debbie’s Specialty Apples.

Miss Debbie’s Specialty Apples, owned and operated by David and Debbie Booth, serves around 150 different types of apples. Each apple is a fresh Granny Smith apple covered in rich caramel and then topped with different ingredients. Its best-selling flavor is the Caramel Apple Pie, a Granny Smith apple covered in caramel, dipped in white chocolate, and rolled in brown sugar and cinnamon. Coming in a close second is the classic Pecan, a Granny Smith apple covered in caramel and rolled in pecans. In fact, the Pecan apple is what transformed Miss Debbie’s into the business it is today.

Before they specialized in apples, the Booths sold homemade fudge and plain caramel apples among other sweet treats. One day, Debbie wanted to roll a dozen caramel apples in pecans. David responded, “You’re crazy. I’m not wasting my pecans on your apples.” To which Debbie replied, “Just shut up and do it.”

So they took a dozen apples, dipped them in caramel, rolled them in pecans, and drizzled some chocolate on top. Debbie put them on the display at double the price of the regular caramel apples and sold them all within 15 minutes. And that is how Miss Debbie’s began, with a whimsical and creative idea by Miss Debbie herself.

Debbie Booth

Miss Debbie’s has now been serving specialty apples for over 30 years, and for as long as they can remember, they have been a vendor at the N.C. State Fair. Miss Debbie’s is extremely grateful for the business that the State Fair provides. The fair is a great business opportunity for small businesses because so many people return to the same vendor year after year to get their favorite products. People tell David all the time that they have waited all year to get their apples. The State Fair provides small businesses with potentially thousands of costumers, many of whom make that small business a part of their State Fair tradition.

“[The State Fair] introduces people to your product, and people get used to you. People typically get their hot dog, sausage, turkey leg, or, in our case, caramel apples, from the same place each year,” David said.

That is one of his favorite parts of being a vendor at the fair – getting to see people who come by year after year. David was born and raised in Raleigh and without fail, every year, he will see someone from high school and will get to renew an old friendship.

Many small businesses took a devastating hit when the State Fair was canceled last year due to COVID-19. Fortunately, Miss Debbie’s was able to keep up sales because of its website, as well as income from supplying fundraising campaigns with apples to sell. However, when it comes to business opportunities, David added, “Nothing will ever replace the State Fair.”

You can find Miss Debbie’s Specialty Apples at this year’s fair in the Commercial Building. However, if you are like me, and just cannot wait until October to get your apples, then you can order some from the company’s website.

About Christa Dutton

Hey y'all! My name is Christa Dutton, aka Blue Ribbon. I'm a sophomore at Wake Forest University majoring in Communication with minors in Entrepreneurship and Journalism. Go deacs! I was born and raised in NC, and the State Fair is a beloved tradition of mine. I don't think I've ever missed a year of the fair. So you can imagine how excited I am to spend my summer working as a public relations intern for the State Fair! I can't wait to see you all at the fairgrounds this fall, but in the meantime, follow along with me here on Deep Fried!

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