On a sweltering day, few things bring relief as immediately as a favorite frozen treat. The United States leads the world in ice cream consumption, with an average of 26 liters per person consumed per year.
Ice cream has been around for quite some time, and it is believed ancient Greeks ate a crude form of the dessert as early as the 5th century B.C. While ice cream parlors, dessert shops and supermarket freezers are popular places to sample favorite flavors, ice cream also can be purchased from ice cream trucks.
The tinkling of the ice cream truck music box and the sight of that dessert haven on wheels is enough to send any child (and many adults) into sensory overload. Some of the early precursors to the modern day ice cream truck were ice and ice cream sandwich carts that gained popularity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Confectioner and visionary Harry Burt was instrumental in developing the ice cream truck. Burt invented ice cream novelties that could be enjoyed on a stick, including the Good Humor bar. Burt wanted an easy way to deliver the treat into the hands of hungry kids, so he commissioned refrigerator trucks and hired drivers who looked pristine and safe to deliver the treats to neighborhood children. To entice the youngsters outside, the drivers rang a bell so kids would investigate the noise. Eventually the bell and standard routes helped families know when to expect the ice cream man.
Early ice cream trucks may have sold prepackaged treats, but they eventually broadened their offerings. Some turned into mobile ice cream shops, offering soft-serve or hard ice cream in everything from sundaes to cones to shakes.
Many ice cream truck businesses are independently-owned seasonal businesses. The trucks are seen when the first warm days arrive, and many can still be seen patrolling neighborhood streets into late fall.