Ball State, Muncie community mourning death of ‘The Hot Dog Man’

MUNCIE, Ind. -- If you drive by the corner of University and Dill in Muncie, you may notice there have been quite a few changes over the years.

Before Brother's Bar and Grill, another late night favorite stood at that corner. One that could only be found in Muncie, Indiana.

“There’d be a line all the way down to the next block,” recalled Derek Edwards, owner of  White Rabbit Used Books. "Everyone loved his hot dogs and loved him. He was a great guy.”

Many alumni of Ball State University and local community members in Muncie will remember the late night lines of hungry bar goers wrapped around the block, anxious for a famous Carter's Hot Dog, and a conversation with the man himself.

"He would talk to anybody about the Cincinnati Reds," said Travis Shroyer. "If you came over to the hot dog cart with a Cubs outfit on, you were going to hear about it, for sure.”

For more than two decades, hundreds if not thousands of hungry Ball State Cardinals came by Carter’s Hot Dog stand, and Mark Carter remembered every one.

“He very quickly became your best friend,” said former Ball State student and customer Rhonda Clevenger- Gibbons. "He never forgot a face, never forgot a name or an order, so it made you instantly feel close to him.”

Carter quickly gained a loyal following in town, one that was passionate in their support of the Hot Dog Man, and had no interest in competition.

“I don’t think that he realized it,” Shroyer said.

When Shroyer launched "Speedy's Hot Dogs" a few years ago, he didn't see much success to start.

“The first night I think I sold 10 hot dogs to his probably 300 or 400,” Shroyer said. "We got cussed at, we had the sinks broken off the front of our cart, we had stuff thrown at us."

Shroyer says he didn't want to step on anyone's toes or take away from anyone's business, so he approached Carter to tell him he was relocating. However, Shroyer says it was Carter who insisted he stay.

“He kinda took me under his wing and led me in the right direction," Shroyer said as he got choked up. "I could never repay him.”

Carter helped Shroyer launch Speedy Dogs, and the two soon developed a friendship.

As Carter hung up his apron, he passed along the territory to Shroyer. Carter soon joined him in the Speedy’s truck, where the two worked alongside each other, until last Wednesday

“I'm going to miss him," Shroyer said, "dearly.”

On Sunday, 58-year-old Mark Carter died at home from a brief illness. Since starting his business in 1994, Carter also expanded into a store front and a location in the Muncie mall. He leaves behind countless memories and his 22-year-old tongs.

“They stayed right here in this truck," Shoryer said while holding the utensil in his hand. "They stayed right here, and they’re going to stay here.”

Even though he now carries some of the same hot dogs Carter once sold, Shroyer says Carter’s stand can never be replaced. After all, the secret to Carter's success wasn’t in a sauce or a recipe. The secret to success was him.

“It was his personality that brought people to him," Shroyer said. "I hope everybody just remembers him and will keep the legend going on, and that’s all we can do.”

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