Funnel Cake Vs. Elephant Ears: What Is The Difference?


Almost everyone loves summer. Children love it because of the break they receive from school and adults love it for the warm weather and sunshine. 

You can also do many activities in the summer that aren’t feasible in the winter. You can go to amusement parks and enjoy roller coasters, you can go to the water park and enjoy splashing around, or you can simply sit outdoors and enjoy the sunshine and tan. 

Another fun summer activity is going to the fair. When the fair comes to town, it is an especially fun time. There are some fair rides that you ride for the sake of tradition. You’ve ridden it every time the fair comes to town. 

One of the best parts about the fair coming to town is the food. 

You can enjoy several different types of food while walking through the fair. While meat at the fair may be rather tasty, some of the best foods are the desserts. You can have fried Oreos, fried ice cream, fried Twinkies, and just fried dough. 

Fried dough is a lot of people’s favorite fair dessert. However, fried dough at fairs is known by two different names: funnel cakes and elephant ears. 

If you order a funnel cake at the fair, is it the same thing as an elephant ear? Is there a difference between the two? If there is a difference, how do you know which one is which? 

Both funnel cakes and elephant ears are made with the same ingredients and are both fried. However, they are made differently and have different structures. 

Funnel cakes get their name by how they are made. They were originally made by pouring the batter through a funnel to achieve stringy dough lines. Now, funnel cakes are typically made by putting the dough in a bottle and squeezing the dough into the oil. 

Elephant ears are made by rolling the dough out flat, kind of like pizza. After the dough has been flattened, it’s rolled back up and cut into 2-3 inch slices, and flattened again before frying. 

So although both desserts might taste similar they are made differently since funnel cakes are made with batter and elephant ears are made with dough. To get funnel cake mix so you can make your own at home just click here. 

Why Are They Called Elephant Ears? 

As a kid, when you heard your parents were excited to eat elephant ears, your stomach may have been a little queasy. You just found out where hamburgers and chicken nuggets came from and now, your parents want you to try an elephant ear! 

After seeing your parents take bites from the elephant ear, you start to become curious as to if it really does taste that good. Still a bit nervous, you take a bite of the elephant ear and realize that elephant ears are quite delicious. 

Then you also learn that it’s not a real elephant ear, but more like a doughnut. So why the name elephant ear? Where did this delicious dessert get its not so delicious sounding name? 

Elephant ears got their name because of their big ear-like shape. 

Elephant ears were first made in America and the elephant ear was inspired by the fried bread of the Navajo tribe. They would use flour, sugar, lard, and salt to create a fried bread that was flat, smooth, and sweet.  

Which Is Better For You: Funnel Cake or Elephant Ears? 

Funnel cakes and elephant ears are both delicious desserts that will end up being kind of messy. They both come out topped with mounds of whipped cream and powdered sugar. 

A funnel cake will typically fit on a plate, while an elephant ear might overlap it by quite a bit. 

If you aren’t a fan of messy eating, then it might be best to stay away from funnel cakes and elephant ears altogether. However, if you don’t mind the mess, is one of them better for you than the other? 

Is there anything healthy or good for you when you eat a funnel cake or elephant ear? 

There is no healthy aspect to eating either funnel cakes or elephant ears. If you are on any sort of diet, these desserts are not diet-friendly. 

However, if you are looking for a treat that will put a smile on your face and don’t care about all the calories, carbs, or sugar; this treat is perfect for you. Both funnel cakes and elephant ears are made with the same ingredients. One is not better for you than the other, they are just made by a different process and may have different toppings added to them. 

Are Funnel Cakes A Midwest Thing?

Have you ever searched for new recipes to add to your book and realized there are a lot of foods that you haven’t heard of? If you live in the northern states, you may not have ever heard of or tasted corn pudding. If you are in the southern states, you’re likely to only get bagels from a grocery store instead of the bagel shop. 

It’s not even just a north-south thing either, there’s the west coast, east coast, and midwest difference in foods too. 

The midwest is known for corn, on the east coast there is great lobster, and on the west coast, you can get shellfish. If you are interested in trying each region’s food, online is the best place to find a variety of different recipes. 

What about fair food? Does fair food vary from state to state, region to region? Are funnel cakes only found in the midwest? Are funnel cakes popular on the east or west coast? 

Funnel cakes are not just a Midwest thing as they actually originated in the Medieval Persian and Arab time periods. This delicious dish would later make its way to Europe. 

As they immigrated and settled in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Dutch would make this delicious dessert, Drechderkuche. 

Around 1879, powdered sugar was added to the funnel cakes and Drechderkuche was rebranded as funnel cakes due to the way it was made. While funnel cakes may be more popular throughout the midwestern states, you can still enjoy them in any state, region, or coast. 

Final Thoughts

Funnel cakes and elephant ears are very similar but are not the same. If you go to the fair and order an elephant ear and end up with a funnel cake, you might be disappointed as they are two different things and do have a different consistency. 

Funnel cakes are thin layers of dough fried on top of each other to make a delicious mess. An elephant ear is rolled out thin, cut, and rolled thin again. Both of these desserts are made with the same ingredients and can both be topped with whipped cream, ice cream, or powdered sugar.  

Both funnel cakes and elephant ears are a great and messy dessert to enjoy with the family either at the fair or at home by purchasing a funnel cake kit. 

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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