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I Hate the Ice Cream Truck

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Ronda Kaysen: The jingle of an ice cream truck used to make me smile with thoughts of summer abandon. Now that I have a toddler, it makes me cringe in anticipation of a full-on tantrum.

kids having ice cream

My son, who has the ears of a bat, can hear that truck coming from a mile away. At first, when he naively thought it was just a music truck, the creepy melody would merely tear him away from his ball or his book or his dismantling of my apartment and send him running to the window shrieking "Moosic tuck! Moosic tuck!"

But after the first time he reached through the truck's dingy window and retrieved a creamy treat, the jig was up. Now, just strolling down the street can send my child into hysterics as he obsesses about where the music truck is and why it hasn't stopped to visit him.

His outsized expectations that the ice cream truck will spontaneously materialize at his whim might have something to do with our local playground.

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, a Mister Softee truck will be planted outside that playground fence waiting for my 2-year-old. What follows is one of two scenarios: a mid-morning tantrum or a pre-nap sugar high. Sadly (for my son), the former is usually the result.

Why, oh why, is that ice cream truck camped out at a playground? I was under the impression that a playground was a place where little people got some exercise, not an outdoor cafeteria where they tanked up on empty calories.

I'm happy to report that I'm not the only soft-serve scrooge. Legions of other New York parents have unleashed a mother lode of fury on the City Council. The city, it turns out, happily accepts hefty checks from ice cream trucks all summer long, permitting them to set up a permanent station in front of public schools and playgrounds, where they can peddle their wares uninterrupted.

"They might as well be selling drugs," Brooklyn mom Melissa Tourgeman told the New York Daily News.

The News reports that the city gets in the neighborhood of $6,000 for each truck parked outside a school or park.

The city claims that fattening ice cream and exercise go hand in hand. "Food and parks have long been associated together," said spokesman Phil Abrams. "Having an ice cream in a park is a great summertime tradition."

The salesmen, of course, see no harm in taunting children with promises of sugary treats. "We're not pushing anybody to eat ice cream," Frankie, an ice cream truck driver who is permanently parked at a Brooklyn public school playground, told reporters. "As a parent, you have to know how to say no."

Thanks for that parenting tip, Frankie. I wholeheartedly agree that parents need to set limits with their kids. But when you parade a brightly colored truck that blares a funhouse soundtrack at a child with zero impulse control, the result is pretty much guaranteed. And it isn't pretty.

May I add this small nugget to the conversation: Most New York parents have no choice in the summer but to take their kids to the city playgrounds. We live in small apartments with no outdoor space and no air conditioning in a town that gets ridiculously hot and humid. So, for all intents and purposes, we are a captive audience. And every day, when our kids kick and scream for ice cream, we grit our teeth hoping that Mister Softee will find a new place to dole out his saccharine sweets.

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
mommymichelle6 May 28, 2009, 11:36 AM

On a funny note, I know of one man in the neighborhood who paid the ice cream truck guy to NOT play the music when he drove through our neighborhood.

Perhaps this was why?:)

kitty May 28, 2009, 1:22 PM

Wow, your kid is a brat.
You should teach better judgement and learning that not everything in the world, especially sugar is intended and deserved to him and his probably expanding gut.

It’s an icecream truck, I can’t believe you took so much time out of your day to obsess and write about this.

You could have deterred a tantrum or two by now if you just would have sat with him and tried to teach him something as opposed to yapping about it on this website. Are you trying to PROVE how mundane your life has become, this is news to you?!?! you’re crazy.

Secret Mommy May 28, 2009, 1:24 PM

Sadly for ME (pregnancy cravings…) the ice cream truck parades through our suburban neighborhood only about once a week. But when my 13 month old figures out what your toddler has, I’ll be happy for the infrequent drive-bys. :D

b May 28, 2009, 2:04 PM

we always get the icecream man driving through right before dinner time. that was in our neighborhood where we really can’t escape! talk about bad, bad timing!

jennifer May 28, 2009, 8:07 PM

I just have to express my dismay at the nastiness of some of the comments. It seems as if there are passive-aggressive, angry women lurking in cyber-space, just waiting to post a scathing, nasty comment. “wow your kid is a brat?” wow, you are a bitter, nasty woman. and let’s remember what we learned in the third grade about the MAIN POINT of an essay.
Thank you, Rhonda. I enjoy your articles and look forward to reading them.

Anonymous August 19, 2009, 9:32 PM

Sorry, that is not being passive aggressive. That is an opinion and I share it.
My first thought at a kid who has a temper tantrum everyday for ice cream is “What a brat.”
I have two toddlers of my own and two toddlers that I take care of, they all love ice cream, but they know a temper tantrum will get them nowhere. Thus I have never had a problem with the ice cream truck. They hear the music and they ask, then they accept the answer whether it is yes or no.

Anonymous March 26, 2010, 9:18 AM


If he has a tantrum that’s your fault for not being a good parent.

If a car runs over a kid we don’t ban cars.

Biz lady July 1, 2010, 4:13 PM

Wow-such hatred towards ice cream truck vendors from amateur Mommys that don’t know how to control their kids—I LOVE IT! LOL

I am a parent, also a proud business owner of an ICE CREAM TRUCK and yet my children are not kicking and screaming to get ice cream every day. As a matter of fact, they never did-even long before i owned this business.
Whenever we heard the ice cream truck in the summer it was up to ME whether or not they would get ice cream that day.
You see, as a pretty COMPETENT parent i taught my children that tantrums won’t get them anything. As a matter of fact, when my kids threw tantrums (when they were very little) they used to LOSE things. That’s how they learned pretty early on that “NO” means “NO”.

Unfortunately, nowadays we have far too many mommies that wish it would all go away—the McDonalds and BK’s, the mean TV shows, the toy stores, the ice cream man, the video game man etc. all because they not only don’t know how to properly say NO, but because they don’t know how to control their kids.

Now as a COMPETENT and KNOWLEDGEABLE parent, i make sure my kids eat healthy, turn off the tube, and get plenty of exercise for their bodies AND brains. As a result they are well behaved, physically and emotionally healthy kids(no obesity permitted in my family). Moreover, they are learning the meaning of becoming self-sufficient productive members of society by observing their parents run businesses.

But what really amazes me are those parents who have absolutely no problems buying junk food for their kids on a daily/weekly basis, no problems with the Mcdonalds, Pizzas and Taco Bell ‘s of this world with their massive ads — yet have problems with an ice cream truck coming around their neighborhood once a week during the summer.
It’s damn laughable.

Not too long ago, there were a few parents in a small community that have managed to kill the ice cream truck business in their area. Such naive parents believe that somehow they have “won”.
What exactly do you think a business owner/vendor does after his ice cream biz is killed?
He opens a hot dog stand, a shishkabob stand, a coffee concessionary, coin operated vending rides, fast food franchise etc etc etc.

He/she may be “gone” from your block but his/her presence is still very much in your community, in forms you may not be aware of or may not appreciate.

Do you honestly think that in this economic climate were millions of jobs are being lost and not coming back, you will somehow force someone out of their livelihood, out of providing for their family simply because you are “inconvenienced” or can’t control your own kids? ROFLMAO
or shall i say ROFTLAWTTB (rolling on floor then laughing all the way to the bank).

I think next week I’ll start selling toys out of my ice cream truck-let’s see how you handle that:)LMAO

P.S.—Next time you or your hubby gets laid off, remember the ice cream vendor, whose business you tried to squelch.
Karma is an amazing thing.

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