As a child, I regarded ice cream trucks as rolling treat wagons — a summertime respite from heat and boredom. As a parent, I watched my son’s excitement grow any time we encountered one of the brightly colored vehicles.
Those days may be coming to an end.
High costs for everything from ice cream to parking are signaling the demise of this mainstay of the American childhood experience.
The ice cream truck is “unfortunately becoming a thing of the past,” Steve Christensen, executive director of the North American Ice Cream Assn., told the New York Times.
Operators of the vehicles once could count on a steady stream of profits, especially on hot days. Now they’re lucky if they break even.
Fuel has soared in cost, a gallon of vanilla ice cream runs $13 and a 25-pound box of sprinkles has doubled in price to about $60. Even the cost of a sales permit has surged.
This means the cost of goodies sold by the trucks has jumped, prompting many parents to look elsewhere for child-pleasing yummies.
“Many vendors say the end of the ice-cream-truck era has been years in the making,” the Times reported.
“Even the garages that house these trucks are evolving, renting parking spaces to other types of food vendors as the ranks of ice cream trucks dwindle.”
It’s understandable. All retail businesses have taken body blows since the start of the pandemic.
But it’s still saddening that this signature aspect of youth is giving way to changing times and a changing economy.
Perhaps soon it will be more common for kids to ask their parents to order some ice cream from GrubHub.