Here comes the ice cream man.

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These blog posts are not excerpts from my pending book, Baby Boomer Reflections, but rather additional memories I’m having after writing the book. If you like these posts, please share them with your FaceBook friends.

Also, if you have any ideas for future posts, or you’d like to contribute a post of your own, please send me your thoughts directly to fred@babyboomerreflections.com.

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I can still hear it … the tinny amplified music that was so familiar. It alerted us kids that the “ice cream man” (women were not hired as vendors until 1967) was in the neighborhood. The music evoked a Pavlovian response to the well developed stimulus, and that was to run from wherever we were and whatever we were doing to find a parent so that you could get some change to satisfy your need for a frozen treat. I believe that process fulfills several of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

The predominant ice cream man sold Good Humor products, and they drove Good Humor trucks and other unique vehicles, including pushcarts, bicycles, shoulder boxes and even one boat.

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It all started around 1920 in Youngstown, Ohio, when Harry Burt replicated the “Eskimo Pie” and outfitted twelve street vending trucks with bells and freezers, and started to sell “Good Humor Ice Cream Suckers.” A few years later, the Good Humor Company sued the Popsicle Corporation and obtained both a license fee and the right to manufacture similar products. Following Harry’s death, his wife sold the company and it was renamed the Good Humor Corporation of America. Franchises were sold for a $100.00 down payment.

Good Humor franchises were initially located in metropolitan areas, and provided inexpensive treats during the Depression. Following the end of World War II, the company moved out to the expanding suburban communities to serve baby boomers predominantly. More than half of Good Humor’s customers were twelve or younger. By the mid-50s, there were around 2,000 trucks that collectively resulted in around 90% of the company’s sales.

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By 1960, Good Humor’s product line had expanded from its three-ounce chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bar on a stick to eighty-five flavors or combinations. Near the end of the decade, the company became unprofitable, and the gasoline crisis of the early ‘70s caused even more troubles. In the late ‘70s, the decision was made to end neighborhood truck sales and become a stand-alone ice cream distributor. The fleet of trucks was sold, and many of the employees purchased their truck and became independent operators. Some of them will be cruising the neighborhoods as soon as the snow melts.

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8 thoughts on “Here comes the ice cream man.

  1. I still love buying from the ice cream truck. There’s a Good Humor truck that stops at 64th & Broadway during the summer. A bunch of us often go running like little kids. Makes me smile just thinking about it.

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  2. I don’t recall the ice cream truck near my home but that could just be me—growing old. I do remember the Good Humor truck in Pittsburgh PA where I would stay in the summers with my older sister. Everyoone in the neighborhood knew his route and we would line up on the curb every day just waiting to hear the music and watch patiently for the truck to round the corner to our street.

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  3. I could hear the jingle 3 blocks away in Alexandria, Virginia. Mom was not happy that he showed up @ 5 pm. Too close to dinner time. Sometimes we were allowed to buy something but had to save it for desert. Also remember milk truck, egg truck, ice truck and in Okinawa the DDT truck!! Ha! Rode my bike behind that one.

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