The smell of greasy oils and sugar floats through the open window into the crowded outdoor park, reminding customers of weekend nights at a festival. Two young toddlers dressed in matching tie-dyed shirts jump up and down, unable to control their excitement, as they ask for more whipped cream on their milkshakes and gaze in awe at the list of corndogs.
Fruity Pebbles, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and crispy potato fries are not typically the first toppings that come to mind when ordering a corn dog. However, the new local food truck Corn Dogs by Mr. Cow has reinvented the traditional idea of a corn dog, taking inspiration from South Korea through its sweet and savory combination of sugar-coated and spicy toppings with chewy fresh dough, beef and stringy mozzarella.
The mobile Korean corn dog kitchen first celebrated its grand opening Aug. 19 parked at Midpoint Park and Eatery — located on 931 SW Second Ave.
The truck, now open seven days a week, has risen in popularity among UF students and young families looking to grab a savory bite to eat while doing homework, chatting with friends or enjoying an afternoon with their children.
Founder Yunho Kim originally opened the corn dog business in Honolulu in 2019. This is the first food truck in the Corn Dogs by Mr. Cow chain, Co-Founder James Lee said, which includes over 10 sit-down restaurants in Hawaii and throughout the country.
The location was one of the main motivating factors in their decision to open a food truck in Gainesville, Lee said.
“We were looking for an available space in Gainesville and found this vacant trailer from the website,” he said. “The trailer was already custom-made for restaurant use. All kitchen equipment was placed in the trailer when we signed.”
Since opening, the food truck has surprised customers with its intricate menu and combinations of toppings and fillings.
The unique menu was inspired by the popular street food in South Korea, Lee said.
“There are several different K-corn dog brands in South Korea,” he said.
The corn dogs are skewered and created from freshly prepared dough and rice flour, filled with mozzarella, cheddar cheese or beef sausage and then rolled in toppings and sugar.
The toppings include Fruity Pebbles, bite-sized potato fries, caramel and sweet barley puffs, cinnamon with sweet potato fries and Flaming Cheeto crumbs with spicy mayo.
Gabby Drew, a 19-year-old UF psychology sophomore, tried the Flaming Potato corn dog for the first time and said she did not expect to love it so much.
“So you know how with greasy foods, it's just traditionally you get fries or burgers or chicken nuggets,” Drew said. “It’s really good, but it's not something traditional that you think of.”
Drew, a vegetarian, also appreciates the inclusivity of the menu, which provides vegetarian options.
“It's really cool that I could get cheese in the middle so that way I could still experience it,” Drew said.
The mobile kitchen also sells milkshakes sourced from Korean ingredients with flavors such as blue soda and honeydew.
Amber Millan, a 34-year-old Gainesville resident, spent her Saturday afternoon at Midpoint Park and Eatery with her husband and two children. After ordering food from a neighboring food truck in the park, she said her children were looking for dessert and wanted milkshakes.
“The kids were excited about it,” Millan said as her son slurped down a blue milkshake. “These are nice and refreshing on a hot day.”
The variety and trendiness of the menu have brought in a large crowd since opening.
Corn Dogs by Mr. Cow is hiring for morning and afternoon shifts. It also hopes to open a second location on UF campus with a bigger kitchen that allows it to make and serve other items, Lee said.
The mobile corn dog kitchen’s location has proved to be especially popular with students and families, who chat at picnic tables or throw frisbees in the grass while they wait for their corn dogs.
“I think the atmosphere here is really great,” Drew said. “If I was out with friends and we couldn't decide what to eat and wanted something quick and greasy, I would totally come here.”
Contact Alexandra Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alexaburnsuf.