We started making lists and now we can't stop. We started with the best pies. We discussed the best potato chips. We even waded cautiously into the waters of debating the best whiskeys. We're really sorry about this, but now we're tackling fried food.
Among other really useful things, the ancient Egyptians invented the technique of frying food in hot fat. Since then, each culture has taken their unique spin on it. Japan brought us tempura, from India, samosas and pakoras (plus a ton of other things, India really knows how to fry food) and America -- well, we've dipped just about anything edible into a deep fryer at one point or another. In determining the best fried foods, I drew a definitive line in the sand: you will not find deep fried Oreos, Kool-Aid, butter or Coke on this list. Those are not foods, they are novelties. Someday soon (we can hope) they'll fade away. But the deep-fried things on this list will endure.
Honorable Mention: Pickles (We still haven't figured out how to make these perfectly. Once we do, they will be a fried food powerhouse.)
19. Arancini (Rice Balls)
18. Brussels Sprouts
17. Egg Rolls
14. Fish (Probably cod is the best, plaice or hake in a pinch.)
13. Samosas (But especially potato.)
12. Hush Puppies
11. Onion Rings
10. Chicken Wings
9. Doughnuts (See also: beignets)
5. Green Tomatoes
3. Southern Fried Chicken
2. French Fries
1. Mozzarella Sticks (See also: fried cheese curds, fried cheese of any kind -- we should fry more cheese)