May 13, 2009

Ice Cream Vans Threatened With Ban - What Do You Think?

On Monday I wrote a blog post called "The Prospect: No More Ice Cream Trucks On Our Streets" and yesterday I was asked by the BBC to join in a radio debate about the threat that currently exists in some parts of the UK to ban ice cream vendors from having licences to park in residential streets to sell their ice cream.

The reaction from not only myself but others taking part including the radio presenter himself was that it is an absurd idea. People also called in afterwards and sent text messages to the same effect. No-one said anything to the contrary! Such is the strong feeling that people have when it comes to ice cream, especially the ice cream van (in the US of course it's the ice cream truck).

As my friend Mary said to me this morning:

"Not only do they supply ice-cream, but they form a social function. They provide a touch of humanity amongst the welter of anonymous traffic."

However, there is always the risk that politicians and policy makers don't listen to 'the common man'. Therefore I'm going to open up this post to comments and invite you to cast your vote:


Please no junk - only serious comments from people interested in ice cream. Thank you.

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May 11, 2009

The Prospect: No More Ice Cream Trucks On Our Streets

It was with total disbelief that I read a news item the other day about how in Britain there is a move towards banning ice cream trucks from parking in residential streets to sell their ice cream. Crazy or what?!

Apparently, some local councils are fearful that ice cream trucks may cause a public nuisance and could even contribute to childhood obesity. So some are no longer issuing street vending licences to ice cream sellers.

I grew up looking forward every week to the ice cream truck coming down our street, parking within easy walking distance of our house and being allowed by my parents to go and enjoy a special treat of a vanilla ice cream cone sometimes smothered in raspberry sauce or with a chocolate flake. The memories come flooding back as I begin to reminisce. Some of the happiest days of my childhood were ice cream days like that. Moreover, I didn't become obese as a result!

I know I'm not alone in my feelings too - many people eat an ice cream cone and can't help but smile as they do so, recalling fond memories of enjoying ice cream when they were younger. Like John who owns some Penrith cottages and writes a great little blog - in one of his posts about a walk in the Eden Valley he mentions eating an ice cream cone. Then there are movies where eating ice cream cones is portrayed as no less than a part of our cultural heritage - take for example 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' (1951 original with Michael Rennie). There's a scene where the man from outer space spends a day out in Washington getting a taste of what human life is about and he gets to eat an ice cream cone. Speaking of Washington, President Obama has a love ice cream that he's happy to share with his family, as witnessed last year during the presidential elections. Read about it in my US Presidents and Ice Cream blog post and also how Senator McCain reacted excitedly upon hearing an ice cream truck whilst he was out campaigning. Very pointedly, none of the people mentioned are obese.

So come on Britain, let some common sense prevail please and leave the ice cream man alone!

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Nov 1, 2008

US Presidents, Ice Cream & Poker

Watching the media 'circus' of the US Presidential elections the last few days set me to thinking about the different Presidents there have been over the years and how many of them were very strong individuals.

Indeed a number of them made no secret of the fact that they really enjoyed ice cream. Good for them! These include Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and even George W. Bush.

Lincoln had ice cream served at his 2nd inauguration and Washington reportedly spent $200 one summer alone on ice cream - and in 1790 $200 was a small fortune!

Harry S Truman's family also appear to have had a fondness for ice cream - in an interview with Dorsy Lou Warr in 1991 she said that her father was a member of Harry S. Truman's poker circle and often provided the Trumans with pop and ice cream.

Thats another intereting subject - Presidents with a love a poker. I must pass on this fascinating story I read called Atomic Poker which relays the account of when and how Truman revealed the existence of the atomic bomb. There was also Warren Harding who played poker at least twice a week and once reportedly gambled away a set of White House china! Many of his advisors joined him in games of poker hence they became known as the "Poker Cabinet".

Whatever your feelings on poker and gambling, in a Presidential context it makes for very entertaining reading!

Getting back to ice cream though, what about Barack Obama and John McCain?

Well, it appears Barack Obama enjoys ice cream - here is a photo of him with his family about to take 'a much needed ice cream break'. Not only that, but apparently Ben & Jerry who have endorsed his campaign have even created a flavor in his honor called "Cherries for Change."

As for John McCain, he clearly enjoys ice cream too. On a hot afternoon in August he reportedly heard the music of an ice cream truck and immediately asked a campaign worker to go get ice cream for his team. He apparently said at the time: “I have not had ice cream from a street vendor since childhood."

Also back in August, Baskin-Robbins were not shy to start using the Presidential elections in their ice cream creations:

"Straight Talk Crunch” for John McCain and “Whirl of Change” for Barack Obama.

The former - a concoction of vanilla ice cream, white chocolate, caramel and almonds - apparently received the thumbs up from McCain himself, declaring “It’s delicious”. Full article courtesy of CBS News.

Regardless of how the election goes, you can be certain of 2 things:

1. A lot of ice cream will be consumed by people watching the results unfold on tv.

2. Whoever gets into the White House likes ice cream.

If it's Obama, given one of his hobbies is said to be cooking, I wonder if he'll make his own homemade ice cream? Now that might just be a first for a US President!

Read more about famous people and ice cream.

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Sep 21, 2008

The Tradition Of The Ice Cream Man

Being an ice cream man is not the most common or popular of jobs these days and when you stop and talk to one you usually find it's been a family business for years. There are many such families with a tradition of ice cream making or selling. Indeed, there are a few famous people from just such a family background.

The genius snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan 's family once ran an ice cream business. I recently read Ronnie's autobiography which our friends Don and Shirley (the sonic horns business people) gave to our son as a birthday present. In the book there's a wonderful photograph of a young Ronnie O'Sullivan (about 8 or 9 years old) sat on the bonnet of his family's ice cream truck.

The great, Oscar winning movie director Anthony Minghella (famous for 'The English Patient') who sadly died earlier this year, was also from such a background, his parents having been immigrants from Italy. The family has a long established ice cream business: Minghella's Ice Cream which produce from their own ice cream factory on the Isle of Wight in the UK.

Our local ice cream man is Gerry who's been doing the job for over 30 years he tells me. I pass his ice cream truck (photo on my web page about ice cream trucks) once or twice a week on the road coming out of town and last time I spoke with him he agreed to do an interview for me. Sadly, I've yet to get round to doing that but it's still 'on the agenda'. The life of an ice cream man is going to make for great reading. I can't wait!

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Sep 15, 2008

A Strange Little Ice Cream Truck

This isn't so much an article or a story but an opportunity to share with my readers a photograph of what must be one of the most unusual little ice cream trucks ever built. It may not be a standard, self-powered truck but it certainly attracts the ice cream buyers when it's open!

It resides on the beachfront in a little Dutch coastal town and is particularly cute. I suppose it's more of an ice cream kiosk than an ice cream truck as it's not mobile but children just love to flock to it and surround it looking at the colorful pictures and chart of different ice creams and toppings. To be honest, I can't imagine many grown-ups who enjoy ice cream being able to pass this by without stopping to buy one of their delicious cones either!

I don't know who designed it but full marks go to them for endeavour and imagination.

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Jun 27, 2008

Ice Cream Truck - Good Humor Or Mr Whippy

"Slow children crossing" or "Caution children". These are very important phrases that appear on many an ice cream truck stretching from the USA to as far as Australia. Usually on the back of the truck, the words are there to alert drivers to the fact that children love ice cream and often so much so that they'll forget to look out for traffic once they've got an ice cream cone in their hands.

It varies from country to country what the warning actually says - for example, in the UK I've seen: "Drivers remember, children forget" which is really memorable.

Whatever the words, it's crucial for drivers to remember that they were once children and, if they think back, most will probably recall excitement at the idea of the ice cream truck coming down the street. We should seek to preserve that innocent excitement - ice cream is really great fun after all.

The sound of the ice cream truck's unique musical jingle, followed by the sight of the colorful truck coming down the street are strong memories for me as a child. Sometimes the ice cream truck would be different (maybe the other broke down or a different ice cream vendor took over the route), but it didn't matter - the truck was always a colorful vehicle and the ice cream always tasted great!

In the USA, the old 'Good Humor' ice cream trucks of the 1960's became part of American popular culture. In the UK the equivalent was 'Mr Whippy' (as seen in the Beatles movie 'Help'). British style ice cream trucks are also popular in other countries, especially where there is a tradition of a strong ex-patriate community. Hong Kong is a good example - on Hong Kong island there's often one parked near the Star Ferry terminal. Out in the Far East, some countries opt for a different motorized way of selling ice cream - in Thailand for example, you'll see ice cream sold from a specially modified motorcyle that has a special sidecar 'freezer'.

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Jun 15, 2008

Country Estate Strawberries & Late Night Ice Cream

Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy strawberries and ice cream - together or separately - and I have two nice little 'country' stories on these topics I'd like to share with you.

Strawberries At An Irish Ancestral Home
Ballywalter Park (N. Ireland) is the ancestral home of the Mulholland family (Lord Dunleath). Beautiful interiors and an intriguing history draw many visitors (by appointment only) but the estate offers another strong attraction, especially in the summer months - strawberries. Top restaurants and supermarket chains take delivery of a large proportion of the estate's strawberries but from mid/late June to early August there is the opportunity to 'pick your own strawberries'. Strawberries are so important to Ballywalter Park that the current owners have compiled "The Ballywalter Park Strawberry Cook Book". At present, the book is only available from the estate's 'pick your own shop' but if it comes available online I will let you know. Sounds mouth watering!

Late Night Ice Cream & A Grand Party In The Country
Recently a friend of mine was invited to a "very grand" marquee party in Cumbria close to the Scottish Border. It was a combined celebration of birthdays - 19th, 21st and a 50th - so the age group of the "party goers" was quite broad. For the party's theme the hosts chose "Snow and Ice". Bearing in mind this was an early summer event, such a theme was a bold idea. However, the hosts did their homework well and delivered an apparently fabulous party enjoyed by all. The marquee resembled a winter garden and there were even statues (human ones) posing as if in a winter setting. To cap it all - and this is what really appealed to me - an ice cream truck appeared around midnight serving ice cream cones for all the guests! As my friend said "I guess no-one is ever too young or too old for ice cream".

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May 28, 2008

Ice Cream Truck Organized For Indian Orphans

I recently read a small but heartwarming news article. It didn't make the national headlines and there was no big fuss made about it but it was the kind of charitable act that warms the heart and I wanted to share it with my readers.

Jesse Oddy was born and raised in India but now lives in Cumbria (England, UK). Whilst on a holiday in India, she visted an orphanage and was so struck by the poor quality of life of some of the children that, on returning home, she determined to raise money to help those same children. "Curry Aid" as she calls it has since raised around $40,000.

This year a donation was made by a British couple who specifically asked if the money could be used to give the children some ice cream. So Jesse dutifully organized for an ice cream truck to visit the orphanage one evening - to the absolute joy of about 40 children who had never tasted ice cream before!

"They all lined up to experience for the first time the taste of ice cream. They had never eaten anything so cold before. "

You can read the full story here

Now that's what I call an unusual charitable donation! Long live the magic of the ice cream truck.

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