A Short History of the Ice Cream Truck

 By Tiber

An ice cream truck started driving round and round the neighborhood today and it was playing so many songs, I got caught up in trying to identify them. He was hitting Mozart to Mos Def. Some were easy to recognize like “Happy Birthday” but I soon realized the truck was also playing Christmas carols. Since we’re nowhere near Christmas, do they think this will make people feel festive again? It just made me feel uncomfortably lost in a time warp in winter and the last thing I wanted was some ice cream.

It took me even longer to figure out their weirdest musical selection. But finally, I realized that the ice cream truck was playing, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Yes, that’s right. A song that brought grown men to tears during the American Civil War is now used to try to sell children “zootie-pops.”

Here, again, though, I didn’t see that much product being sold. Instead of buying, you really are just standing there, trying to I.D. all of the music.

When I was little, ice cream trucks only played one tune, over and over and over again. I guess those days are gone but, frankly, as a pure business model, my guess is this was much more effective. I know from personal experience that Dad would sometimes give us money just to “please, please, make that damned song go away.”

Some of this new truck’s tunes also included old folk songs that I was actually able to sing along with. The funny thing is, I don’t ever remember learning any of these lyrics. Maybe we’re all singing away in nursery school and we just don’t remember. Was a familiarity with these songs good for sales? I guess it helps some.

In the future, though, I imagine they won’t risk just hoping that you’ll feel fondly about something you learned as a child. Instead, your purchasing choices will already be locked into human brains at birth. Then, whenever an ice cream truck is anywhere within five miles of your kid, his eyes will glow and he’ll suddenly start to chant in your own home,

“It’s Saturday. Buy me 12 “Nicey-Iceys.” It’s Saturday. Buy me 12 “Nicey-Iceys.” It’s Saturday. Buy me-”

“All right!!! All right!!! Come on!!! Let‘s go!!!”

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