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Must fry harder... the end of the deep fried Mars bar?

The first in a new series fighting (or at least discussing) foodie fads, Mhairi MacLeod wonders whether the deep fried Mars bar still holds its own in a market newly flooded with supersized American snacks.

Once upon a time in 1995, a town just south of Aberdeen gave birth to a true Scottish legend - the deep fried Mars Bar.

But times are a-changing and as the trend for bizarre, extreme and controversial food balloons like a bariatric surgeon's waiting list, could the humble deep fried Mars be at risk of relegation to little more than a modern day aperitif?

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Quite possibly. Today, placing your signature against a legally binding contract is both par for the course and a tantalising extra that's got a new wave of foodie extremists and competitive eaters wielding Biros in one hand and napkins in the other.  

The Fallout Challenge - aptly named because one might assume it predicts contestants' bowel movements for the next three days - is Bristol-based Atomic Burger's answer to the rise and rise of 'disclaimer dinners'.

Here, after signing a waiver, participants are equipped with protective latex gloves and given 45 minutes to devour a triple burger monster covered in XXX Fallout sauce.  

The prize? A congratulatory T-shirt.

The wooden spoon? Having to pay a £30 surcharge should you find yourself vomiting on the premises.

As you might imagine, the UK's growing appetite for extreme eating has its roots in America. Las Vegas' Heart Attack Grill arguably takes the biscuit with its lurid line-up of self-proclaimed 'nutritional pornography'.  

On the menu is the world's most calorific burger, the Quadruple Bypass, which includes 4 ½ pounds of beef, 20 bacon rashers and almost 10,000 calories. A series of butterfat shakes purporting to have the highest butterfat content in the world enable visitors who are less familiar with their jaw muscles to drink liquefied family-sized bars of chocolate. Think deep fried Mars…but on steroids.

With waiting staff dressed as nurses, diners required to wear hospital gowns and anyone who doesn't finish their meal subjected to an 'administered spanking', Heart Attack Grill and its kin are designed to create a salacious, salivating spectacle; both of the food and its patrons.

Back across the Atlantic, it's difficult to imagine the good people of Stonehaven dishing out Heart Attack Grill-style spankings to anyone who doesn't possess the wherewithal to finish their Mars bar supper.

The deep fried Mars might even seem a little amateurish compared to its calorie-laden brethren and the surge in extreme food experiences.

Yet despite being touted as the poster boy for 'all that's wrong with the Scottish diet', it's a moot point whether XXX hot sauce or butterfat shakes can claim to be as much a part of their country's national identity as the deep fried Mars bar.

A draw for natives and visitors alike, pop sensation Jessie J has even professed that she'll be hunting down her own slice of deep fried goodness ahead of her gig at Edinburgh Castle this week. That's got to mean something, right?

Now on the cusp of celebrating its 20th birthday, the deep fried Mars may no longer be the most extreme option on the menu, but as an accessible urban icon, there's no denying it defends its place.

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