Six miles away from Disneyland Resort is the Southern California institution known as Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s hard to explain to outsiders or first time visitors the place that Knott’s has in the hearts of Southern Californians. It’s a place that our grandparent’s grandparents took them to. A place that not many people would call their favorite theme park, or even necessarily a place they like to visit. But it’s our nice little local park. The typical response I hear from out-of-towners that visit Knott’s is, “It’s nowhere near as good as Disneyland.” That’s like telling a wrestling fan that wrestling is fake. Duh, they know. Sure, it’s not as glamorous, exciting, or well-themed as Disneyland, but it definitely has a lot of charm and is well worth a visit.
Anyway, this post isn’t about Knott’s history or quality; it’s about boysenberries. This week I visited Knott’s with Tom Bricker. This was his first trip, and our main reason for visiting was to experience the annual Knott’s Boysenberry Festival. You see, boysenberries are one of the major reasons Knott’s Berry Farm exists (Knott’s says all boysenberries in the world can be traced back to Knott’s Berry Farm), so it makes sense that the park would honor them.
This was my first time attending Knott’s Boysenberry Festival, and I was surprised to see that the park put a lot of effort in to special decorations. Displays like this can be found throughout Ghost Town.
This monster is called the Fun Bun. It is the newest treat at the Knott’s Boysenberry Festival and arguably the new star of the show. It’s a deep fried cinnamon roll topped with powered sugar and boysenberry cream cheese. The Fun Bun caused a stir on Twitter when it was announced with thousands of fans tweeting about it. Because of this, I was unsure if it could live up to the hype; you just never know with these kind of things. Luckily, it far surpassed my expectations: the cinnamon roll was warm and gooey on the inside, and the outside had a nice crisp to it. The boysenberry cream cheese topping is good but almost too sweet. It’s one of those things that you feel ashamed to eat. The Fun Bun is so good but at the same time you feel like you’re punishing your body. Overall, it’s an intense dining experience.
Tom and I had no idea how big the Fun Buns were, so we each ordered our own. This was a mistake as we could have easily split one. Each Fun Bun was about the size of a Mc Donald’s Big Mac, but twice as heavy. But if there’s one thing Tom and I have, it’s manners, so we finished them. At this point we actually looked at the map and discovered there were many more boysenberry items to try. We didn’t come all this way to just let one Fun Bun defeat us, so we moved on to the next.
As we looked around we discovered that the cost of Boysenberry Festival items would add up quickly. The Fun Bun alone was $8.99. Luckily we found a “Tasting Card” for sale in the Calico Saloon. It offered six samples of Boysenberry Festival items for the total price of $25.
The first item we tried was the Hot Dog with Boysenberry Relish and Boysenberry Ketchup. It was hard to tell there was any boysenberries in the relish as the pickle flavor mostly canceled it out. The Boysenberry Ketchup did have a hint of berries and wasn’t bad, but I can’t imagine it being something I would want to eat frequently. The hot dog was surprisingly good and freshly grilled on the spot.
Next up was the fried Alligator Bites with French Fries and Boysenberry Aioli. It had been about 20 years since I last had alligator, and I enjoyed it. It my seem exotic for Southern California (we saw a few families posing with their alligator bites), but it pretty much tastes like chicken. I could have sworn the boysenberry topping was the same as we had on the Fun Bun, but someone on Twitter informed me that that this one was mayonnaise-based. Whatever it was, the taste of boysenberry was very strong in the aioli, and I thought it mixed better with the fries rather than the Alligator Bites.
Before moving on to the next food item, we walked around to check out some of the other Boysenberry Festival items. There is a ton of shopping added for the festival, including exclusive merchandise, crafts, sauces, jams, and other little chochkies. There are also games for kids, as seen above. Tom and I didn’t try any of the alcoholic boysenberry items like beer or wine.
Back to the food, next up was the Ear of Corn, with Boysenberry Butter, and Boysenberry BBQ Wings. The Boysenberry Butter, or Boysenbutter, is boysenberry jelly mixed with butter, and it’s as delicious as it sounds. The Boysenbutter melted perfectly over the freshly roasted corn and made for a simple but tasty dish. Tom and I were not fans of the wings, however. We both thought they tasted like low quality pizza restaurant wings drenched in super sweet barbecue sauce.
The final item on the Tasting Card was this Boysenberry Trifle with ice cream. Even though you can’t see it, sponge cake was buried under all that soft serve ice cream. Normally this dish would be heaven in a bowl, but after all those other items, and especially the Fun Bun, I only managed a few bites. The Boysenberry Festival successfully made me throw in the towel. We had finished every item on the Tasting Card, but there will still many other items we didn’t try, such as Boysenberry BBQ ribs, Boysenberry Burger, Boysenberry Meatballs, Boysenberry Mashed Potatoes, Fried Cheese Curds with Boysenberry Ketchup, and many others.
Before heading out we saw a performance of Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies, who performed at Disneyland for decades under the name Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. They still put on a great show, and I miss seeing them perform inside the Golden Horseshoe at Disneyland. Overall, Knott’s Boysenberry Festival is worth checking out if you’re a fan of boysenberries, and I will definitely be back next year.