Reignite Your Childhood Love For The Ice Cream Truck

Get your bills out!

August 30, 2017 ● 2 min read

By Cassandra Landry | Image Simon Bradfield via iStock 

Hearing that tinkling ice cream truck bell still—still!—makes our heart race a little. 

Bleating unrecognizable tunes like a slow-dying jack in the box, the truck rolls through some random composite scene of your remembered childhood. The trucks all look the same, all scuffed white paneling plastered with peeling colorful stickers of some semblance of a menu. To your overwhelmed kid brain, there are thousands of choices—flat cartoon faces on sticks with gumball eyes, a taco made of chocolate. It seems impossible that all of them could be stashed on this one janky but miraculous truck, impossible that anyone could decide between them with any degree of certainty. 

And we ran for this truck, just like the saying goes, which begs the question: why was it always driving away? How many times was standard to circle one neighborhood? No matter where you were, or how prepared you were, it was always something you had to desperately flag down as it cruised down the block. There was no discernable schedule: when it came, you had to be ready. So much stress contained in those tiny fists clutching crumpled bills! 

Maybe it's because we're grown-up, but it feels like ice cream trucks are rarer creatures than they used to be. Now, sometimes when you catch them out of the corner of your eye—that familiar flash of stickers on white paneling—they're steadily cruising empty neighborhoods, like they're lost. We don't run for them anymore. But maybe we should! There are few occasions in which we get to bust out that awkward half-walk, half-trot, after all: public transit, ice cream, and for the misguided among us, crosswalks.

Ice cream trucks still represent the serendipitous, in a time when everything is tracked and planned and 'grammed. They are the OG harbingers of summer. Here's how a few chefs in the ChefsFeed universe remember it:

“When the ice cream truck rolled around and lured my sisters and me with its piper’s song, I chose between my two favorites: the chocolate and banana bomb pop and the cherry and pineapple swirled popsicle. I looked up the name of the cherry and pineapple swirled popsicle, and it’s called the ‘Big Stick,’ which kind of repulses me and makes me wish I stuck with the banana chocolate thing. But, I am a sucker for that appealing red and yellow swirl and the two flavors mixed together. Maybe we can just pretend it has a better name, like a ‘Tornado’ or something.” —Chef Dana Cree

“Ice cream sandwich or strawberry shortcake, because they were a dollar, and I would spend my leftover money on Garbage Pail Kids.” —Chef Richie Nakano

“I loved the Good Humor Chocolate Eclair. The crunch on the outside and the chocolate in the middle. It had awesome texture. Sometimes I would go for a push pop, for the variety of flavors or an orange creamsicle because it was so decadent, and not chocolate! Sno-cones sucked. It was fucking snow with colored sugar syrup. Biggest con-game on that damn truck.” —Chef Jamie Bissonnette

“Oh, the ice cream truck! I have always loved a drumstick. I'm a vanilla kind of girl, and it always was my favorite.” —Chef Rebecca Masson

“I was always a rocket pop guy. Shout out to rocket pops. I just love em. Those, and the Spiderman ice cream on a stick. It’s got all this crazy fake red and blue food dye in it. Those two are my go-tos. And being a New Englander, I’ve always been a Hoodsie Cup guy—the little cups of ice cream that come with a wooden spoon, a total Boston thing, made by Hood Creamery. Chocolate or vanilla. Basic, but delicious.” —Chef Matthew Jennings