Close your eyes and think back to any summer of your youth.
Didn’t you love to hear the calliope music faintly at the end of the block? You would stop dead in your tracks, gasp and stridently whisper to your friends, “Did you hear that?” And in unison everyone yelled, “It’s the ice cream man!”
Then pandemonium! In a frantic, wild disbursement of children, short legs sprinted inside to their piggy bank or their mom’s purse. There was boisterous begging for spare change or last week’s allowance so they could be first to the truck ladled full of pure sugar, chocolate and food coloring. The Bomb Pop was the “bomb,” the Drumstick was “banging,” and there was nothing funny about missing a Good Humor bar.
Oh, memories of a simpler time when children were allowed to run the streets with friends and chase trucks stocked with high-fat dairy products. Life was good!
But it’s not the same world now. There are recommendations to refrain from high-fructose corn syrup and high-fat dairy. And I’m sure some study somewhere indicates that food coloring causes behavioral problems in children from Dayton, Ohio. It’s enough to shut down the ice cream business all together. And if that isn’t bad enough, there are documented cases of children being accidentally run over by the trucks!
I have been researching how to resolve this summertime trouble, and an acquaintance in the Chicago area mentioned that she and her young children call the ice cream truck the “music truck.” Her children have no idea the truck is filled with glorious cold snacks. They think it’s nice that a truck periodically comes down their block to provide some music while they are out playing. What a nice person to fill the neighborhood with circus music! She will let them know when they can cross the street carefully.
I know another woman — let’s call her Miss Popular — who for years kept her basement freezer swollen with a variety of icy treats. Every time the ice cream truck would approach her home, her children and those playing with her kids would stop what they were doing and run to her basement. It was their cue to grab a free dessert. My guess is the ice cream man in her neighborhood wasn’t fond of her.
Now, I am not trying to close down the mobile ice cream business. Far from it. I love a good Bomb Pop when the heat index starts climbing. I just advise parents to educate young kids that even though the ice cream truck can be a sweet summer experience, they are no different than any other vehicle driving down the street. It’s best not to run in front of one.
So may your family have a safe summer, and remember to supply your children with the appropriate ice cream requirement mandated by the USDA’s food pyramid. You might have to squint to see it, but I’m pretty sure it’s there. At least that’s what I tell my family.
Do you have fond memories of the ice cream truck? Or were you scared of it?