The Scoop on Ice Cream
Trucks & Treats
Written by Sam Schunk
Many summer memories involve enjoying the sights and sounds of the season, such as the gazing at stars in the night sky or listening to the chirp of crickets after dusk. For some, they can almost taste the cool ice cream that promises much-needed relief from the heat of the day when they hear a familiar tune playing from an ice cream truck.
Around the world, children and adults easily recognize the approach of an ice cream truck by its popular melodies. In America, selected music includes “Camptown Races,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” “Music Box Dancer,” “Pop Goes the Weasel,” “The Entertainer,” and “Turkey in the Straw.” “Greensleeves,” “Whistle While You Work,” and “You Are My Sunshine” are played from trucks throughout the United Kingdom.
Many creatively delicious treats have been sold at ice cream trucks over the years. Ice cream sandwiches, which are traditionally a layer of vanilla placed between two long, chocolate wafers, are believed to have first been sold on the streets of New York City around 1900.
Christian Kent Nelson, a storeowner from Iowa, discovered a process for covering ice cream bars in chocolate. The inspiration for his invention came when a young customer requested a chocolate bar, then changed his mind, saying he wanted ice cream instead. Christian combined the two and introduced what he initially called the “I-Scream Bar,” a small square of ice cream coated with chocolate, in 1919. He filed for a patent in 1921 and entered into an agreement with local chocolatier Russell Stover to mass-produce the chilled treats as Eskimo Pies, a name suggested by Russell’s wife. The similar Klondike Bar®, named for the river in Alaska and Canada, was introduced in the early 1920s by the Isaly Dairy Company in Youngstown, Ohio.
Harry Burt, also of Youngstown, developed the Good Humor® Bar, the first ice cream treat served on a stick in 1920. A candy maker and ice cream parlor owner, Harry had previously created a lollipop on a stick called the Jolly Boy Sucker. After his daughter complained that ice cream treats were messy, Harry’s son suggested that a wooden stick would make a convenient handle. Harry had twelve ice cream trucks on the streets of Youngstown selling his “Good Humor Ice Cream Suckers” later in 1920. His son, Harry Burt Jr., opened a franchise in Miami in 1925.
Drumsticks®, traditionally made of a waffle cone filled with vanilla ice cream and covered in chocolate and peanuts, were introduced by the I.C. Parker Candy Company in 1928. Since then, versions with chocolate ice cream, with a chocolate center in the ice cream, and without nuts have become flavorful favorites.
Two tasty new treats were developed in the 1980s. The Chipwich®, which consists of vanilla ice cream wedged between two chocolate chip cookies, was invented by Richard LaMotta in 1981. Soon afterward, he trained 100 street cart vendors to sell the treat around New York City, which helped to establish the Chipwich brand. The Choco Taco®, a taco-shaped waffle cone filled with rich, fudge-swirled vanilla ice cream and coated in milk chocolate and peanuts, was introduced by the Jack and Jill Ice Cream Company.
Many other favorites have made their mark with ice cream aficionados. Also marketed under the Good Humor® brand, the Strawberry Shortcake bar, which contains vanilla ice cream covered with a crunchy strawberry coating, has been pleasing palates since the 1960s. Similarly, the Chocolate Éclair, with its center of chocolate enveloped in vanilla, coated in chocolate and then finished with a chocolaty cake crunch, has become popular since its introduction. The Creamsicle®, which is the perfect marriage of orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream, and Fudgsicle®, an icy fudge bar, both delight the senses. For kids, ice cream treats shaped like their favorite cartoon characters, like Mickey Mouse or Dora the Explorer, are a fun and tasty way to beat the heat.
Given all the delicious treats they offer, it’s no wonder that adults and children alike perk up when they hear an ice cream truck’s familiar tune in their neighborhood. Whether you wait for a truck or check out your grocer’s freezer, indulge in a cool, creamy delight this summer!
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