Zombie Dogz scares up business

Theme of popular food truck suits Halloween.Backyard campfire in Oakwood sparked idea.

What do hot dogs have to do with zombies? After all, zombies prefer “human” food.

Like a lot of good ideas, Zombie Dogz was a mesh of two passions. Lee VanArtsdalen, her husband Dave, and a friend were roasting hot dogs around their backyard campfire in Oakwood, and talking about their fascination with zombies.

Why not combine the two and start a new career?

Lee just happened to be taking business classes at Sinclair Community College, in Dayton, and started focusing her school projects on the new food truck idea. Zombie Dogz was launched in March 2013.

When the VanArtsdalen's business was 2 years old it was crowned 2015 Hot Dog Vendor of the Year by Mobile-Cuisine.com. Foodies voted 4,500 times, and a social media post about the win received 29,556 likes. Clearly there are a lot of Zombie Dogz fans in the Miami Valley.

On Oct. 14 the business owners posted on Facebook that the truck would be parked with the farmers market on West Main Street in Fairborn. That took a lot of guts, because there was a “zombie catcher” parked in a cemetery just two blocks away in the Halloween-crazed town.

The truck features 21 “deadly gourmet creations” but only have four on the menu at various stops in their schedule. That day’s features were 1) Juan of the Dead, topped with swiss cheese, barbecued pork, sweet/tangy mustard, and pickles, 2) Gem City Slasher, with avocado salsa, cilantro sour cream and bacon bits, 3) Dead Dixie, topped with diced apples, gorgonzola cheese and bacon bits drizzled with barbecue sauce and 4) Calling in Dead, a crowd favorite loaded with truffle oil mac’n’cheese topped with crumbled crackers.

Lindsey Paxson, who moved from Delaware to Riverside this past July, was in the long line to get some all-beef franks for her and her boyfriend.

“I actually just had a Zombie Dog this past Sunday at Tuty’s on Colonel Glenn. I had the Calling in Dead one. My boyfriend Matt really likes those, and had two of them on Sunday,” she said. “He wants me to order a Juan of the Dead for him today.”

Sean Merrill of Oakwood was also in line with his Wright-Patterson Air Force Base work buddies, Nate Vaught and Charlie Shivers, both of Dayton.

“I’ve had a Juan of the Dead and a Calling In Dead. I’m getting a Juan of the Dead today; getting pulled pork on top of a hot dog is pretty decadent,” said Merrill. “We wanted to come and get some hot dogs before they close down for the season (on Oct. 31).”

Vaught liked a Zombie Dog he had ordered at Octoberfest, with spaetzel noodles on it. Merrill’s wife, Ann, is a vegetarian and orders from The Undead series, which features tofu dogs.

The trio tracks the Zombie Dogz truck on Facebook to find out where they'll be parked.

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