Ice cream van
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An ice cream van (British) or ice cream truck (American) is a commercial vehicle which serves as a travelling retail outlet for ice cream, usually during the summer. Ice cream vans are often seen parked at public events, or near parks, beaches, or other areas where people congregate. Ice cream vans often travel near where children play — outside schools, in residential areas, or in other locations. They usually stop briefly before moving on to the next street.
Ice cream vans are often brightly decorated and carry images of ice cream, or some other adornment, such as cartoon characters. They may have painted-on notices, which can serve a commercial purpose ("Stop me and buy one!") or a more serious one ("Don't Skid on a Kid!") - serving as a warning to passing motorists that children may run out into the road at the sight of the van, or appear without warning from behind it. Along the sides, a large sliding window acts as a serving hatch, and this is often covered with small pictures of the available products, with their associated prices. A distinctive feature of ice cream vans is their melodic chimes, and often these take the form of a famous and recognizable tune, usually "The Mister Softee Jingle", "Turkey in the Straw", "Do Your Ears Hang Low?, "Pop Goes The Weasel" "The Entertainer", "Music Box Dancer", "Home on the Range", "It's a Small World", "Super Mario Bros. Theme" or "Camptown Races"; or, in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, "Greensleeves", "Whistle While You Work" in Crewe and Nantwich, "You Are My Sunshine" in Vale Royal, "Teddy Bears' Picnic" in Sheffield, and "Match of the Day" in other places. In some places in the US, ice cream trucks play the song "Ice Cream" by Andre Nickatina (essentially just Turkey in the Straw with bass).
Most ice cream vans tend to sell both pre-manufactured ice lollies (American English: popsicles) in wrappers, and soft serve ice cream from a machine, served in a cone, and often with a chocolate flake (in Britain) or a sugary syrup flavoured with, for example, strawberry. Soft serve ice cream is served topped with sprinkles for a slight extra charge. While franchises or chains are rare within the ice cream truck community (most trucks are independently owned/run), there are a few chains.
Early ice cream vans carried simple ice cream, during a time when most families did not own a freezer. As freezers became more commonplace, ice cream vans moved towards selling novelty ice cream items, such as bars and popsicles. Early vans used relatively primitive techniques: their refrigeration was ensured by large blocks of dry ice so the engine was always turned off when the van was stopped for sales. The chimes were operated by a hand driven crank or a take-off from the engine, so they were not heard as often. Modern chimes are always electrically operated and amplified.
In Southeast Asian countries including Thailand and Cambodia, ice cream is often sold from modified motorcycles with freezer sidecars. Tunes played range from the theme from Titanic to "The Virginia Company" from Disney's Pocahontas.
In Hong Kong, ice cream vans operated by Mobile Softee serve soft ice creams and popcicles. As in the United Kingdom, the vans play The Blue Danube to attract customers. The company headquarters is in Fo Tan. As the Hong Kong government no longer issues new mobile hawker licenses, the company is restricted to just 14 vans in all of Hong Kong.
In Australia and New Zealand
Ice cream vans (colloquially known as "Mr Whippy vans") are very popular near beaches, parks and at major events in cities and towns. Most of the population buys the ice creams with standard cone or waffle cone. There are a number of businesses that build custom ice cream vans, such as Majors Group, Mobile Van Builders (NZ) and other business in Australia and New Zealand.
The first Mr. Whippy business was adopted in New Zealand in 1964. This was when the Mr. Whippy brand began taking shape and worked towards creating a household name in the nation. At this time, the Mr. Whippy brand was well established in the UK and Australia and met rapid success and expansion in New Zealand.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the brand name and business flourished. As the lifestyles of Kiwis changed, Mr. Whippy continued to remain a national icon, representing the popular outdoor lifestyle and family values. The soft serve ice-cream sold in vans was popular among all Kiwis. It was much later that Mr. Whippy also started its fixed sites in New Zealand. It started these sites at malls and shopping centres to test the response of the community.
Both the mobile services as well as the fixed site services proved to be a great success. Today, there are around 36 Mr. Whippy franchisees operating 58 trucks and trading from Northland to Southland. The mobile services franchise has also planned for a country wide rollout for fixed sites.
Previously, Mr. Whippy was part of NZ Milk Products which was combined into Fonterra in 2001. Prior to this Taylor Freeze owned Mr. Whippy and was also responsible for the 1989 reorganization of the franchising system. Over the past 7 years the business has undergone a major refurbishment into a modern franchise system under current owners Flying Kiwi Holdings 2006 Ltd. Mr Whippy has grown dramatically, and its brand and products ensure it remains a much loved icon in New Zealand.
Home Ice Cream is another famous Australian brand of ice cream. The company is well known for its distribution system having over 100 franchises from Darwin to Melbourne, selling ice cream by the box, unlike other ice-cream vans in Australia.
From 1959 to 2002, Dickie Dee was a Canadian ice cream vendor, selling ice cream from tricycle carts and ice cream trucks. At its peak, Dickie Dee was one of the largest ice cream vending companies in North America, with approximately 1500 operators across Canada and in the Northern United States. Although the Dickie Dee company was sold (1992) and later discontinued (2002), much of its former equipment is still being used by local distributors.
Most ice cream trucks in Canada sell soft serve. While many also carry pre-packaged novelties from either Blue Bunny or Good Humor, most of those products are popsicle types as soft serve is the main product being sold. Soft ice cream cones, slush, milkshakes, banana splits and sundaes are typical ice cream truck fare in Canada. Most of the trucks in Canada have a similar look. White truck with some product graphics. Some independents like Hollywood Cone are changing things up a bit and creating a unique gourmet product. This is a trend taking place as well in standard food trucks in both Canada and the U.S. Street food has never been so hot and ice cream is no exception.
Rather than vans or motorcycles, ice cream sellers use an adapted bicycle to travel around the land with their product. Using a trumpet rather than a music player, they attract attention and mark their presence. In beaches some go on foot with a special portable box to carry them.
In Scandinavia, the light blue Hjem-IS trucks provide door-to-door sales of bulk, pre-packed ice cream. The company is well known for its distribution system, selling ice cream by the box, unlike ice-cream vans elsewhere in the world. They operate on a fixed schedule and can be tracked online.
In the United Kingdom
There are mainly two types of ice cream vans in the United Kingdom: a "hard van" which sells scoop ice cream and is only equipped with a freezer and a "soft van" which has a freezer and also a soft serve whippy machine installed serving Ice cream cones and Screwballs. They are usually converted from factory standard vans with the rear cut away and replaced with a fibre glass body (to reduce the weight). Because of the British climate, running an ice cream van profitably is not only very difficult outside summer, but is also an unpredictable business. A summer heatwave can provoke a massive upturn in fortunes for a few days, but after the weather has returned to a milder character sales drop off dramatically. The need to take advantage of rare and short-lived opportunities can result in fierce rivalry between ice cream vans in coterminous areas, with the main disputes being over who is entitled to sell ice cream in a particular 'patch'. This has also led to some ice cream van vendors diversifying and selling other products such as crisps, chips, burgers or hot dogs from their vehicles at other times of the year.
In a number of Local Authority areas, particularly in London Boroughs with existing street markets, street trading regulations prohibit ice cream vans from remaining in one static location. The legislation also contains powers to ban ice-cream vans from specific streets. Proposals in the current London Local Authorities Bill will allow only 15 minutes' trading per vehicle per street each day. There also exists a nation-wide code of practice  for the use of chimes, which limits the volume to 80dB and the duration to 4 seconds, but these are rarely observed, and rarely enforced. Chimes must not be played more often than every 3 minutes, near hospitals, or near schools and churches when they are in use.
British-style ice cream vans are also found in Hong Kong - there is usually one parked outside the Star Ferry terminal on Hong Kong island, and on Haiphong Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. Some organised crime syndicates used them for laundering the proceeds of crime and a front for drug dealing. A period of Glaswegian criminal history called the Ice Cream Wars existed in the 1980s between rival gangs fighting for territory.
Also in Scotland, ice cream vans have been used to sell smuggled cigarettes. The UK ice cream van industry have historically been a cash only industry,however in keeping with public retail trends Markes Ices in Kent claim to be the first to introduce chip and pin to all their ice cream vans.
In the United States
Apart from ice cream, ice cream trucks may also sell snow cones, Italian ice or water ice, snacks, sodas, and candy. Many trucks carry a sign, in the shape of a stop sign, that warns other drivers of children crossing the street to buy food or ice cream. They also play music to attract consumers to their trucks. With the advent of social media networking, many ice cream truck operators are redefining the traditional business model. Not satisfied with the traditional approach of cruising for customers, some operators are developing followings on social media sites and "announcing" the location of their trucks.
Novelty ice cream trucks
Professionally built ice cream trucks that sell prepackaged product (Novelty Trucks) use commercial cold plate freezers that plug in overnight and when unplugged maintain the cold for at least 12 hours. Music systems are mechanical, such as pianos, or more commonly digital devices that have no tape or other moving parts. Each "music box" may be able to play one or multiple tunes. The opening on the side that drivers serve from is commonly referred to as a serving window and will usually have a serving counter. Awnings can be attached to trucks over the serving window. Safety equipment usually comes in the form of an electric or vacuum swing out sign which may resemble a stop sign or a triangular shape, as well as vinyl lettering or decals that advise others to use caution.
Soft ice cream trucks
A soft ice cream truck sells soft serve ice cream instead of pre-packaged novelties alone. These trucks are not seen as often in the United States presumably because of the extra costs associated with building such a truck. These trucks vary in their construction and how they power the machines on board. Power sources include an on board generator, an inverter system or power can be supplied from the vehicle's engine.
London Ice Cream Van At Event with pearly King and Queen United Kingdom.
Event Hire United Kingdom.
Cone Queen Truck from Brisbane, Australia.
Finnish ice cream van (Ford Transit) in Helsinki
Ice Cream Vans for Hire-kent-London United Kingdom.
Ice Cream Van Hire In London and Kent United Kingdom.
- Neely, Daniel Tannehill (Spring 2005). "Soft Serve: Charting the aural promise of ice cream truck music.". Esopus 4 (New York, NY): 28.
- "Ice Cream Trucks". Serving Ice Cream. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
- "London Local Authorities Act 1994 (c. xii)". Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- "Code of Practice on Noise from Ice Cream Van Chimes". Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- "Ice cream ploy by tobacco sellers". BBC. 2001-05-03.
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