Saturday Surprise — Kangas & Ice Cream Trucks

Hello friends and welcome to the weekend! This is an updated reprise of a Saturday Surprise post I did five years ago in May, just as school was getting out for the summer, so the part about the ice cream trucks may be a little premature … or late, whichever way you look at it … but still fun, I hope!  This picture has absolutely nothing to do with today’s theme, but I came across it and just couldn’t resist …kittyAt the time of this original post in 2018, I had picked up a couple of new readers … very young ones, both 4 -years-old, and they happened to really liked animal videos.  So in honour of the two young men who fell in love with the wingless bee the prior week, I hoped they would enjoy these kangaroos!  And they did, and so did the adults/grownups in the room!

The sounds of summer did not began here in da hood this week, but they will soon enough.

school-out-1When that last day of school arrives in late May, we will hear the sounds of young voices laughing gleefully, the sound of balls hitting our back window, skateboards rolling down the street, and parents screeching.  But one sound in particular will be welcomed by all and is nearly an institution:  the ice cream truck!  Even though it is rare that I can eat ice cream, the sound of “Turkey in the Straw” rolling down the street always makes me smile.  And seeing the kids lined up at the window, credit cards in hand.  Guess what, folks … it is no longer a dime like it was when we were kids.  Now it is more like $2.  Inflation, y’know.  Our ice cream truck is driven by a retired couple and they are perfect for the job … always have a smile and unlimited patience with the little ones.  Anyway … the ice cream truck got me to thinking and wondering a couple of things, like when did the first ice cream truck hit the streets and where, and why the heck did they pick “Pop Goes the Weasel” and “Turkey in the Straw” for them all to play?  And so, as you know, when Filosofa wonders, Filosofa goes in search of answers.

ice cream truck-1

The history of ice cream street vendors dates back to the nineteenth century and is shaped by advances in technology, and fortunately, sanitation. While much has changed since peddlers first sold dishes of ice cream from carts cooled with ice blocks. ice cream truck-6In the U.S, the ice cream cart began as an urban phenomenon in which working class laborers bought a small dish of ice cream that he or she licked clean. The dish was then returned to the vendor, wiped down, and loaded with a fresh scoop for a new customer.  Blech. Customers with more money—or a healthy fear of infectious diseases—opted for ice cream cream truck-3Milk was not pasteurized in the U.S. until the 1890s, which meant any dairy product was potentially laced with the bacteria that caused scarlet fever, diphtheria, and bovine tuberculosis. Ice cream poisonings were a common event and were regularly reported in the news. Newspapers described ice cream poisoning epidemics in which dozens of fair-goers, picnic attendees, and party guests were stricken or killed. Public health officials, however, initially overlooked dairy contaminates and blamed ice cream poisoning on artificial flavors, specifically cream truck-5By the turn of the century, ice cream hygiene improved dramatically and fairgoers were no longer afraid to order a cold treat. At the 1904 World Fair in St. Louis, a convenient take-away premiered— the ice cream cone. The thin, crispy waffle had long been a dessert favorite, and rolling the waffle into a cone wasn’t a new idea. The novel idea was to scoop ice cream into the cone, and several men who sold concessions at the famed fair fought for recognition as to who was the true cream truck-4In the early 1920s, advances in refrigeration meant electric coolers replaced ice deliveries. Electric coolers were far more portable, and made it possible for a chilled ice-box to be placed on a motor car. At the same time, the early 1920s also saw the start of Prohibition and the end of easy access to the daily delight of wine, beer, or spirits. For many Americans, the comfort of fast food and sweets replaced the indulgence lost with banned spirits. The popularity of ice cream parlors and trucks soared during this era.

The first ice cream truck was credited to Harry Burt of Youngstown, Ohio, who was the creator of the Good Humor brand. Burt was already delivering ice cream from a motorized vehicle when he had the idea to place chocolate covered ice cream bars on a stick. His new Good Humor ice cream “sucker” was easy and clean to eat, which gave him the idea to sell it directly from his truck to consumers on the street.

Ice cream sold in parlors or stores became a luxury item during the Depression. But ice cream trucks such as Burt’s Good Humor brand where able to survive the Depression due to the product’s low-cost. Many consumers couldn’t afford big ticket items, but they could afford a nickel for an ice cream treat. During this time, vendors began offering economical items such as twin popsicles that parents broke in half and shared with two cream truck-7Post-war ice cream production boomed and so did the competition. Mister Softee was founded in Philadelphia in 1956 by two brothers who created a soft serve ice cream machine built specifically for a truck.

Although Good Humor sold its fleet in the 1970s to focus on grocery store sales, Mister Softee trucks are still on the streets, not to mention a host of competitors who sell original treats as well as pre-packaged favorites to a new generation of kids listening to hear the familiar jingle on a hot summer day.

I still have no idea why they choose ‘Turkey in the Straw’ and ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ for the songs to play, and I’m too tired tonight to dig any deeper, but I did find a site titled “a brief history of ice cream truck music”, so can do your own digging on that one! But here’s a tidbit for you.  In this, the world of bluetooth, GPS and a host of other apps to allow you to do nearly anything without leaving the ease of your recliner, there’s an app for the ice cream truck also.  You can track the truck by GPS in order to know precisely when he will be on your street, so that your kids don’t have to leave their video games to go outside and listen for him. 🙄  But also … ALSO … you can even place your order ahead so that you don’t have to be troubled with telling the ice cream man what your heart desires.  🙄  If that is not the epitome of laziness, I don’t know what is.  And it seems to me that it takes all the fun out of it.  Might just as well buy your ice cream at the grocery and keep it in the freezer until needed if you’re gonna do that!

ice cream truck-8So, now that I’ve made you crave an ice cream bar … get outside and enjoy the weekend — plant some flowers, lie in the hammock and read a book, wash some windows — Oh Wait … it’s only February.  Well, stay inside, bundle up, read a book, and dream of hearing the ice cream truck making its way down your street in about three more months!

Enjoy your weekend!!!ice cream truck-9

14 thoughts on “Saturday Surprise — Kangas & Ice Cream Trucks

  1. Jill, growing up in a cul-de-sac road afforded us the opportunity to get to the ice cream truck as it was leaving the road. It gave us a time to run in from playing and get the necessary change for the popsicles or ice cream. I recall the banana popsicles were a favorite, but also those orange sherbet push pops. Yum. Keith

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    • I didn’t get that experience, nor did my own children, but Natasha did, and I’m so glad. She could hear the ice cream truck when he first turned into our neighborhood, two streets away, and I always made sure she had money for an ice cream. Sometimes she would even share with ol’ Grannie! Your memories are wonderful and now I want a banana popsicle!!!


    • Yes, that’s what I thought, but I was just chatting with my friend Andrea via comments on one of her blog posts, and she tells me that they had a couple of warm weeks, but that now it’s very cold and she’s back to wearing her sweat pants and Uggs boots!

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  3. I love this tradition of ice cream trucks, as I saw there that it is still in the USA and the UK..Since we no longer have open ice sales here in the village, there are no longer children on the streets. To be honest, the children are arrested here like the adults. From 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.they are at school. Meal included.Families only meet in the evening. xx Michael

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    • We still have the ice cream man here in da hood! In 2020 & 2021, not so much, due to the pandemic, but last year he was back at least once or twice a week.

      Michael … you’re telling me that kids in your village go to school for 11 hours a day? And if they are playing outside on the streets they are arrested? This is beginning to sound like an autocratic, military government! Did I misunderstand, or is it shades of something sinister? xx


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