I used to live a block away from a place in Cliffside Park, NJ that made great zeppoles. It was called La Pizza Cafe. They were a bag full of heaven!
This seems to definitely be a localized thing, because the pizza places down here don’t do them. Up in Northern NJ, they were ubiquitous.
What I think is amazing is how many cultures and localities have some type of fried dough. I grew up with funnel cake. When I got to MD, it was elephant ears. There are zeppoles and bombolini and Indian fry bread and sopapillas and fankuchen (sp?). And all of it is SO good!