12 Surprisingly Delicious Items to Dip in Fondue

iStock.com/Solstock
iStock.com/Solstock

Dipping items in a communal pot of gooey, warm, melted cheese or chocolate can be a fun experience, and full restaurants have capitalized on the trend. Common dippers for cheese fondue include cubes of bread, apple slices, and raw vegetables. With chocolate fondue, you’re probably familiar with typical dippers such as strawberries, marshmallows, and pretzels. But if you want to take your fondue experience up a notch, making it way more interesting and creative, check out these 12 surprisingly delicious items to dip in fondue.

1. BEEF JERKY

Dessert jerky, anyone? Although you might have already dipped cubes of steak or ham into cheese fondue, try using beef jerky as a dipper. You can certainly try pieces of beef jerky with cheese fondue, but the combination of the salty jerky with the salty melted cheese might give you sodium overload. To get a uniquely sweet, salty taste, a la chocolate-covered bacon, dip beef or turkey jerky into chocolate fondue.

2. STEAMED VEGETABLES

Crudités are a common cheese fondue option, but you can get more creative by using steamed veggies as dippers instead. Try steaming carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery, or branch out by using cooked mushrooms, artichoke hearts, green beans, or asparagus tips.

3. AVOCADO

Avocados are creamy, rich, and healthy, and pair surprisingly well with chocolate fondue. Vegan dessert recipes often use avocado in place of butter due to its creamy consistency, and avocado dipped in chocolate is a great match. Because ripe avocados can be soft and a bit messy, though, you might want to put cubes of avocado in the freezer before dipping them in chocolate.

4. INSECTS

The Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans serves chocolate fondue … with insects as dippers. Visitors gather around a chocolate fondue fountain and dip toothpicks with crickets and wax worms into the chocolate. The nutty flavor of the insects reportedly pairs well with the warm chocolate.

5. PASTA

Rather than ordering a plate of macaroni and cheese, just add some chunkier pasta to your cheese fondue spread. So that you don't lose your piece of pasta in the vat of melted cheese, choose firm pasta shapes that are not too small or too long—and ones you can easily skewer. Ravioli, tortellini, and rigatoni work well, but you can also experiment with farfalle, rotelle, or fusilli.

6. JALAPEÑO PEPPERS

Spicy and sweet is a popular flavor combination, so why not dip jalapeños into chocolate fondue? Make sure to take the seeds out of the peppers if you want them slightly less hot, and use gloves so you don’t irritate your skin.

7. MINT LEAVES

If you like York Peppermint Patties, try dipping mint leaves into chocolate fondue. Look for fresh sprigs of mint, and hold the sprig by its stem to dip it into the chocolate. Either eat it straight up, wait until the chocolate hardens, or use the chocolate-covered mint leaves as a topper on another dessert such as ice cream or a slice of pie.

8. CURED MEATS

Rather than dipping kebobs of cooked chicken or beef into cheese fondue, try using cured meats instead for a different flavor profile. The options are many, but you can start with cubes or chunks of salami, soppressata, or chorizo. If you have slices of cured meat rather than chunks, you can simply wrap the slice around a thick skewer. Also, cooked bacon in chocolate fondue will attain a salty and sweet taste combo, and if the bacon is crispy enough, it can act as its own skewer.

9. POTATOES AND POTATO CHIPS

Roasted baby potatoes are the perfect size for dipping into cheese fondue, and the taste is similar to a cheesy baked potato. You don’t have to stop with roasted potatoes, though. Try potato chips (use tongs to dip them), potato skins, or thick-cut French fries—dipping these into cheese or chocolate tastes great. Not sure if you’ll like the taste of potatoes plus chocolate? Lay's makes milk chocolate covered potato chips, which will give you a good idea of how potatoes and chocolate fondue will taste.

10. PICKLES

Pickles and cheese make a surprisingly delicious combination. Although you can dip any type of gherkin into fondue, cornichons reportedly work quite well because of their size and crunchiness. Just make sure they're not straight out of the jar—you don't want too much brine pooling in the cheese pot.

11. FROZEN FRUIT

Soft fruits such as mango, kiwi, peach, and papaya might be difficult to dip into chocolate fondue without the fruit dissolving or getting lost in the gooey pot. But these fruits taste delicious with a chocolate coating, so simply cut up bite-sized pieces of fruit and freeze them. They’ll be much easier to dip, and you can pat yourself on the back for eating your daily serving of fruits (even if they are covered in chocolate).

12. BALLS OF COOKIE DOUGH

Pieces of cake, brownies, and cookies are commonly dipped in chocolate fondue, but balls of cookie dough are an all-too-often overlooked alternative. Make your favorite type of cookie dough (chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, peanut butter, and oatmeal work well), roll the dough into balls, and dip them into a pot of melted chocolate. To save time, just buy prepackaged frozen cookie dough and let it thaw a little before dipping. The warm chocolate with the cold cookie dough is delightful.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Taco Bell Quarterly, a Taco Bell-Themed Literary Journal, Exists—And You Can Read It Online

What does the Crunchwrap Supreme have to do with queer politics? A lot, actually.
What does the Crunchwrap Supreme have to do with queer politics? A lot, actually.
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Taco Bell

In August 2019, writer and “Editor Grande Supreme” MM Carrigan launched the first edition of a free online literary journal called the Taco Bell Quarterly. It wasn’t a publicity stunt—in fact, it wasn’t affiliated with the fast food chain at all—but rather a quality collection of Taco Bell-themed literary musings that ran the gamut from satirical to totally serious.

According to Food & Wine, about 1500 people downloaded that first issue, and viewership grew to 40,000 for the second issue, which was released in February 2020. The Quarterly is gearing up to launch Volume 3 in September, and it promises to be the most zeitgeist-y edition yet.

“Volume 3 will be very much informed by the state of the world. The pieces we're gravitating toward are foreboding, existing on the precipice of an alternate history in which we might have prevented the pandemic," Carrigan tells Mental Floss. “People think we're a joke, but this will be the issue that proves we're not. Writers are taking chances in writing in our magazine that I don't think the literary world has seen in a long time. We're writing with radical sincerity.”

Capturing the cultural atmosphere of this year through Taco Bell-related poems, essays, and short stories might seem like a tall order, but the Quarterly is no stranger to tackling tough topics. While some early pieces are silly and upbeat—take Alana Saltz’s poem “Ode to Nacho Fries,” for example—others use Taco Bell as a backdrop for deeper musings about “homelessness, suburban dread, poverty, American identity, and so much more,” as Carrigan told Food & Wine.

Carrigan chose Taco Bell as the journal's unifying thread because, to put it plainly, it was the first idea that popped into her head.

“Brands are a symbiote that live in our brains. We're telling that story,” she says. And, as far as brands go, Taco Bell's offbeat, innovative menu items and neon beverages are more “seductive” and “daring” than McDonald's classic Big Macs and smiling clown mascot. In other words, the subversive fast food chain is the perfect theme for an online journal that aims to subvert people's stereotypical understanding of “The Writing Life,” which Carrigan describes as a “journey of MFA programs, writing retreats, [and] rubbing elbows at conferences.”

As interest in Taco Bell Quarterly grew, Taco Bell itself began to take notice, and Carrigan says the company has sent the team hundreds of dollars' worth of free tacos as an unofficial "thank you" for all the free advertising. She distributes them to writers whose work has been rejected by other literary magazines.

While you wait for Volume 3 to hit the internet this fall, catch up on the first two volumes on the Taco Bell Quarterly website here.

[h/t Food & Wine]