For many children, the single best sound they’ll hear on any hot summer day is the catchy jingle of the ice cream truck as it makes its way down their street. When those tell-tale notes are heard, cries of “Ice cream truck!” fill the air.
Children drop whatever they’re doing to run to the nearest adult to ask for money for a cold treat from the ice cream man. Getting a popsicle or ice cream sandwich from the ice cream truck is a tradition that many children — and adults — treasure as a part of what makes summer the WONDERful season that it is.
Of course, all sorts of ice cream treats are sold in grocery stores. Many towns also feature specialty ice cream shops that serve a wide variety of cold, delicious desserts. So how did the tradition of the ice cream truck and its driver — the ice cream man — get started?
No one knows for sure who the first ice cream man was, but he may have been an employee of Harry Burt from Youngstown, Ohio. In 1920, Mr. Burt developed frozen ice cream on a stick and called it the Good Humor® bar.
To promote his creation, he used a dozen trucks driven by drivers in white uniforms to sell his ice cream bars around Youngstown. The trucks featured bells the drivers would ring to get people’s attention. The bars became a huge hit.
By the 1950s, ice cream trucks were very popular throughout the United States. While some were used by ice cream companies to promote their specific products, others were simply private businesses started by entrepreneurs who wanted to sell a variety of ice cream products.
The first ice cream trucks used huge blocks of dry ice to keep their products cold. Modern ice cream trucks feature huge refrigerators that keep the ice cream treats nice and cold all day long — cold enough to give you an ice cream headache on a hot day!
Ice cream trucks often travel neighborhoods during the day when kids are outside playing. You’ll also often find them at other places large groups of people tend to gather in the summer, such as parks, beaches and sporting events.
Like the bells on the first ice cream trucks, today’s ice cream trucks lure customers with familiar, catchy jingles. We often WONDER how the ice cream man can stand to listen to the same song over and over again all day long! Some popular ice cream truck tunes include Turkey in the Straw, Do Your Ears Hang Low?, Pop Goes the Weasel, The Entertainer, Music Box Dancer and Camptown Races.
Ice cream trucks usually serve a wide variety of ice cream treats. Some of the most popular items include popsicles, snow cones, ice cream sandwiches and soft serve ice cream. Some ice cream trucks also offer soft drinks, candy and other snacks.