WILDWOOD - A craving for a glass of Kool-Aid is easy enough to satisfy anywhere - but when it's a hankering for fried Kool-Aid, a trip to the Wildwoods is probably in order.

That's where Candace Gochenauer and her boyfriend, Domenic Casazza, have added the unusual fried concoction to the menu at Bananas Ice Cream Cafe, 400 E. Lincoln Ave., in Wildwood.

They came across the idea of frying the popular drink mix after a little research that showed the mixture was selling at the San Diego County Fair last month.

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By Fourth of July weekend, they introduced the idea to their customers.

Using cherry or tropical punch flavored mixes, they combine the Kool-Aid with flour, eggs, milk and sugar. The deep-fried batter turns into flavored doughnut holes that are selling at 5 for $3.25. Gochenauer says their place is selling anywhere from 15 to 20 orders day.

With employee Nicole Agli looking on, Gochenauer scooped a sample of the mixture with a small ice-cream scoop and placed it in a fryer until golden brown.

"People are skeptical at first, but then they try it and the reaction has been good," she said, noting that cherry and tropical punch are used because they hold their flavor best.

"We try to come up with something new every season. It keeps everything lively. It keeps people coming back," Gochenauer said.

That's the challenge for boardwalk businesses as they try to lure customers with something new.

Patrick Rosenello, executive director of the Boardwalk Special Improvement District, said other foods such as the cut potato on a stick sometimes called Chipstix are also popular along with gyros and fried Oreos.

Gochenauer's shop has also taken on chocolate-covered bacon, a creation seen on the Food Network.

"It's selling surprisingly well," Gochenauer said. "They try it just once, just to try it. It's a novelty."

Novelties often become old standbys, and fried foods are among the most popular, with fried Oreos, fried Twinkies and other fried snacks now almost routine at the shore. Gochenauer, a Williamstown native who now calls Wildwood home, said she's even heard of fried beer.

Banana's is also experimenting with frozen treats made only with fresh bananas or berries mixed with peanut butter for a new take on standard peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

"We're trying to keep up and do new stuff," Gochenauer said.

And when the novelty wears off, Gochenauer and other food vendors like her will have to figure out what will be popular next summer.

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