#392 Catching the ice cream truck

Candy doesn’t deliver.

Since Emperor Nero sent slaves into the mountains for ice to mix with honey and nuts two thousand years ago, we’ve all enjoyed cooling off with big bowls of the sweet and icy treat.

Yup, Arabs started adding milk to the mixture a thousand years later, the Chinese invented an ice cream maker, and our friends in France were first to write it down in a cookbook. Basically, everybody around Team Planet contributed to the unparalleled levels of creamy deliciosity we get to enjoy today.

Nowadays maybe you get your fix when the soccer team screams at mom from the back of the station wagon till she peels into the Dairy Queen parking lot. Or maybe you sneak down to the basement freezer for a few sneaky spoonfuls after bedtime.

Or maybe you actually catch a truck.

You know how it goes.

Scribbling on your stomach in your bedroom, playing Bubble Bobble with your brother in the basement, throwing baseballs around the backyard, your ears suddenly perk up to the sound of a distant and familiar jingling.

Eyeballs pop, eyebrows raise, and big smiles curl on your face because now the race is on.

Booming down the hall, bouncing down the stairs, you scramble for spare change as those jingling bells get louder and louder and louder. Forget socks, forget shoes, forget closing the front door — it’s time to blast out of the house and risk the Burning Blackfoot as you sprint as fast as you can down the street towards that slow-wheeling, rainbow-colored truck…

Can’t you just taste it?


This post is 3 of 1 2 3 4 5 for Kids Week!

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

70 thoughts on “#392 Catching the ice cream truck

    1. Memories? I thought this was kids’ week. Should I be embarrassed that I did this a couple weeks ago? I’m 27….

  1. My town totally DID NOT have an ice cream truck. What a rip-off. We had a snow cone truck (yummy, but not as good as ice cream) that came around, but we lived on a circle drive … so they never came down our street. I was completely gypped as a child! I did get to experience the snow cone truck whenever I was at the pool and they drove by … everyone would fly out of the water and run barefoot across the gravel parking lot, waving soggy dollars in their pruny little hands.

    Thanks for the ice cream history lesson! Who knew?! Well … you did. But I did not :)

    I’m gonna say it again … I’m loving Kids Week!

    1. Agreed! Kids Week should get its own “Awesome” post.. That’d be pretty meta of the blog, huh?

      We also didn’t have an actual ice cream truck, with the song and all..

      We did have the “popsicle bike”, where some local 16 year old kid from the neighborhood got a job to bike around an overgrown cooler to make $3 an hour he was surely going to spend on weed.. but there were little bells on the bike, and I would chase after him with a fistful of change to try to buy a “rocket” popsicle (red, white and blue).. those were some great summer days!

      1. Btw: Laura – I took your advice and logged on at night to get in earlier than jdurley! And it’s not even 10 pm here in San Diego!

        BOOYAH! :)

      2. HAHAH! ” … surely going to spend on weed.” That cracked me up.

        In the town where I went to college, there were these few guys who drove around in “ice cream Jeeps” … it looked like they hijacked a grocery store ice cream freezer (you know, those smaller ones up near the checkout that have ice cream bars/sandwiches in them) and put it in the backseat of a Jeep. They drove around ringing a big bell that was strapped on to the frame of the Jeep. It seemed kind of creepy and ghetto to me, like the ice cream thing was a front for some kind of kidnapping operation.

        1. We (me and my sister) were never allowed to buy ice cream from the ice cream trucks. My parents were worried about germs… :O

          ‘That guys hands have been on the wheel and all sorts of places, before serving you the ice cream. NO!’

          Sad times.

          Congrats to Freddo! ha :)

          1. Sinead, that’s tragic! You needed to carry around a little bottle of hand sanitizer and ask the man in the truck to rub it on his hands before serving you ice cream so you could appease your parents, but still allow you to cool off with a tasty summer treat!

            1. I should have. But I was young and foolish, and didn’t know about hand sanitizer. It wasn’t big in Ireland 10-15 years ago, when I was a wee kid. Bummer!

    2. I grew up in the country with NO ice cream trucks as well. I did not not get to purchase my first ice cream from a truck until I was 25 years old. And it was……….AWESOME!!!

    1. Agreed, I’m completely unashamed to still get excited over the snow cone truck (my town’s answer to the ice cream truck). :)

    1. Great Idea!

      I love trying out new truck food in different cities.. Portland, OR is a great city for this! They’ve even got their own website (http://www.foodcartsportland.com/)..

      Though, I’m personally partial to a fish taco truck here in San Diego.. the atmosphere could leave a little to be desired (you have to eat sitting in the parking lot of a liquor store), but the tacos are SOOOO good, and only $1 each!

      1. Hey, don’t knock the liquor store parking lot! I’ve had a lot of g-o-o-o-d times there.

      2. um…fish taco sounds so gross. Captain D’s had/has them and I’m sorry, but that’s just something I won’t try.
        Never have gotten food from a food truck either. I can’t recall ever even seeing one.

        1. Oh, that’s a shame Bekah.. I assure you that if you ever come here to San Diego, we can change your mind on the fish tacos..

          And you can have some of the fun times in the liquor store parking lot that jdurley used to have during her misspent youth!

          1. ::sigh:: oh how I miss alcohol. Just when I get to the point where I can start enjoying it, its gone for a few months. I asked hubby if he can have a margarita waiting for me as soon as the baby pops out….. sadly, he said no.

            Maybe if you get enough liquor in me I will try a fish taco. :-)

  2. Oh man, nothing and I mean nothing was as great as catching the ice cream truck during summer vacation (we called him mr sofee!!)

    And I would totally raid the hamper for spare change, cause if I waited for my mom to find some, I would definetly miss it! Oh and I would always pray the kids playing outside, would slow the truck down for me, even if I did have to wait in a line later! Had to close the door though, or the dog would get out!

    Kids week is awesome!

    1. We have Mister Softee here too! Where do you live? I’m in South Jersey.

      This summer, Mister Softee stopped by my work twice a week, and every time most of us grownups went outside to buy some. It’s not quite the same as running for it, but it never ceased to be awesome. You’d think we’d get tired of it, but nope! :)

      1. Hehe north jersey! Yay for mr softee lovers, and I’m jealous, I haven’t had an icecream from him in ages!

        1. Our Mister Softee at work is a Miss Softee! And I must have summoned her when I posted this the other day, because she showed up one last time and gave us all Mister Softee swag. :)

          Next summer, come down to South Jersey. Mister Softee trucks are all over the place!

  3. I never even saw an ice cream truck when I was a kid, but my daughter loves to just watch them.
    One day I finally let her go get an ice cream and she was so excited. She ended up rushing and not paying attention and tripping…she fell down a small hill and scratched up her foot. She was standing there crying, hopping on one foot, trying to wave down the ice cream truck while trying to cover her ears cuz the fire station siren was going off (we live right beside the fire station), and was yelling at me between sobs and above the siren to give her the money. This happened last week. Her foot is all better. She got the most expensive ice cream…wasn’t even technically ice cream…she got spongebob on a stick.

    1. Oh jeez! That sounds like it was quite the traumatizing experience. At least she did actually get a treat at the end of all this … can you imagine if the story had ended with her NOT catching the ice cream truck?! How sad. Glad her foot is better :)

    2. Ice cream always tastes better after a recent cry!
      Poor little sweetie! Hope your next ice cream truck experience is better!

      1. I have the picture of her foot on my blog under the title “ice cream boo boo” and I tell the story. She was so excited to get that ice cream. Nothing was going to stop her.
        And ya know…we went all summer without seeing that thing and as soon as the weather starts to cool down, he comes out of nowhere.

  4. In our town, we didn’t have ice cream trucks but kids on bikes pedaling about town with a freezer box on the front. They were called Dickie Dee — a Ontario legend!

    They would ride around the streets with their handle bar bells jiggling… it was a sure sign of summer. I didn’t encounter ice cream trucks until I moved to the city.

    1. Those are the guys I was describing in my post above! Dickie Dee guys! I totally forgot their name.. Thanks, Lose That Girl!

  5. LOVE this post! Rarely had the chance to do this myself though.

    “Since Emperor Nero sent slaves into the mountains for ice to mix with honey and nuts and two thousand years ago…” Typo?

        1. Brown Squares of the World, Unite!

          We have nothing to lose but our chains (and ugly brown squares)!

          We have to look on with envy at all the beautiful blue, green, pink and red squares, and look like the little pin-wheels of my youth..

          We are mocked and disdained for our feculent avatars!

          No more, I say… NO MORE!

          1. Hmm… are you sure it’s the square that’s leading to the mocking, or maybe it’s because you say stuff like “feculent avatars”? LOL

  6. Ahhh, our ice cream truck had candy, too! How lucky were we?! Name of the truck owner? Dairy Dan! So, when the bell started to ring and to calls of “Dairy Dan’s coming”, we’d excitedly race down the street for a treat. Wow, hadn’t thought of that in years. Thanks for the memory. I also lived next door to an ice cream & candy shoppe. Let’s just say there was no scarcity of sweet treats at my house growing up…mmmmmmm!

    Love the idea about food trucks having their own awesome #. My hometown also had/has a lunch wagon: one of those step vans with a grill in the back. You can get your greasy burger cooked to order in no time. Awesome!

  7. i only saw the ice cream trucks when i was at the beach with my grandparents, and was never allowed to get any – grandma always had better ice cream back at her place for us :)

  8. Hey Neil, you make me smile on pretty much a daily basis, so I figured it’s my turn to give back. I wrote this in 1999 while on 23 day back-packing trip where ice cream is just about the last thing available. I hope you enjoy. – Brian

    ice-cream man

    remember blue skies
    and popsicles? sure
    you do. remember the sound
    of the ice-cream man’s bell?
    you used to drop everything
    and run into the house the
    second you heard it. you would
    be all, “mommy, mommy! can
    i have 50 cents, the ice-cream
    man!” and almost guaranteed,
    mom would come up with
    50 cents just in time. sometimes
    she’d even buy something for
    billy, or jenny. isn’t mom
    the best? and after the
    screw-ball or the chocolate
    eclair was gone, and you were
    back playing wiffle-ball, mom
    was still watching. you never
    knew this, but that was both
    one of your’s and one of
    her’s most simplistic joys. isn’t
    life grand? remember blue
    skies and popsicles? sure
    you do.

    1. This is such a true little poem. I like it.
      My orchestra went on a trip to New Orleans to celebrate the beginning of summer, and while we were walking the streets, we heard the ice cream man nearby. We all looked at each other for a second before singing the jingle at the top of our lungs, even after we were so far from the truck that we couldn’t even hear it. I think that the fact that we all knew the jingle that well shows how AWESOME the ice cream man/truck is. :D

    2. that’s so cute – love it!! thanks for sharing :)
      i’d actually forgotten, but this reminded me — we had an ice cream truck that went through the university when i was in college, i imagine they got great business from the college kids.

      my roomie was a music composition major, and she ended up writing a theme and variation piece based off of the music that plays from the ice cream truck because she heard it so often… good times :)

  9. My oh my, this is a favorite of mine.
    I did this recently when a day before the truck passed, my grandmother gave me a dollar for no apparent reason. The next day, I was sitting in my room on the laptop (probably on this site) when I heard the whimsical jingle that was a staple of my childhood. I must admit, I was out in my front yard before you could blink. The only thing that was disappointing was that, due to the recession, the fudge bar that I got for 50 cents as a kid, was now a dollar.

  10. Catching the truck… EASY!

    Getting the money from my mom to buy ice cream… NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE! (“We have TONS of ice cream in the freezer, you don’t need to buy more ice cream!”)

    Even when she’d say yes (about once per summer) I think she deliberately moved slowly, hoping the truck would be gone by the time she actually put the money in our grubby little hands.

  11. Btw: Am I the only one that thinks that the cone in that second picture (the chocolate one) looks ridiculously good and makes me want to shove it in my pie hole as quickly as possible??

    Separately, I have no idea what’s going on with that second cone.. I’m not saying I wouldn’t eat it.. just that I don’t know what’s going on with it..

    1. “I have no idea what’s going on with that second cone.. I’m not saying I wouldn’t eat it.. just that I don’t know what’s going on with it..”

      Hilarious! … but true.

      It looks borderline furry.

      1. I’m pretty sure that’s banana ice cream with vanilla wafers and caramel, hmm yum. But I could be wrong and just missing old favorites!!!

  12. When the ice cream truck cruised down our street, I’d grab my hard earned baby-sitting money and buy an Astropop. They lasted at least twice as long as ice cream. My ears still perk up when I hear that jingly truck of bliss wheeling down the road.

  13. Our neighborhood never had an ice cream truck. Even if it did, my mom would probably never let me get something for it. She thinks ice cream trucks are too dangerous and all the ice cream guys are kidnappers.
    Has anyone noticed that it isn’t ever a truck? Just a big ol van.

  14. ice cream truck music…kids playing outside..
    listen – here comes the ice cream truck….!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yelling out
    “stop” AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!even awesom-er when you get a chance to yell STOP!!! as a grown-up & giggle furiously as you & your other grown-up pal delight in the memory-as you stand on evergreen avenue in ela!you are laughing so hard YOU CANT EVEN DECIDE!!..what a delight..

  15. I wish I still had the enthusiasm to run out of my house and chase down the ice cream truck.

    Now it’s every time I hear the music, I try to remember where all of my spare change is, I start debating with myself about how much energy I want to spend to find it, and then I question how much I *really* want that Push Pop.

    By the time I finish those thoughts, the truck is gone and I pout a bit before deciding, “Eh, it’ll be back.”

  16. I still have one that comes down my street every night during the summer around 8 or 9 in the evening!! same guy everyyy time! I really want some soft serve now

  17. I’m pretty sure that the funny looking cone is a Bea Arthur from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck in NYC. I know it has Nilla wafers; maybe there’s dulce de leche as well? If you’re lucky enough to find this truck, I recommend the Salty Pimp. Yummy ice cream with awesome names. Enjoy!

  18. Ice cream trucks are SO great. I remember thinking to myself one day when I saw the ice cream truck, “There are some really great things in life. Ice cream trucks are one of them.” I had plans to add more to the list (much like you’ve done here) but never got around to it. I’m glad my one idea is on your list :)

  19. Awesome entertainment everyone…awesome!
    I hope when I move back to the city, there will be an ice-cream truck/van or bicycle for when my grand-babies come to visit:) How exciting it would be!!!

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