History of the Ice Cream Truck

Colleen O'Morrow

Posted on June 28 2020

orange cream pop candle and ice cream truck history

Photo source: Do You Remember?

There’s just something so nostalgic about hearing the first notes of an ice cream truck in the distance. As the chimes get louder, your mouth can’t help but water more! Much like how certain sounds can bring back fun memories from our childhood, so can scents. That’s why we themed our Summer Collection around nostalgic fun! The Orange Cream Pop Candle and Fruit Slushie Candle were created based on memories of the ice cream truck. So we thought - Why not dig up a little history on this sweet summer tradition?!

We loved discovering that an Ohio native (O-H!...If you’re an Ohio peep, ya get it) was the creator of cold, sweet treats on wheels! Harry Burt of Youngstown, Ohio is credited with the invention of the ice cream truck. Here’s the SCOOP (thanks to an awesome history write-up from Mental Floss!)…

In 1920, the candy maker had just developed a new kind of lollipop called the Jolly Boy Sucker. Soon, Burt began working on other creations and came to create a very thick ice cream bar. But an ice cream bar without anything to hold onto was messy and not ideal. With a little help and feedback from his family, he used the wooden lollipop sticks to create a portable frozen treat - The Good Humor bar. These were the first ice cream bars to use an easy-to-hold stick! 

nostalgic summer soy candles

The Good Humor offices on April 1, 1965, in Chicago. (Howard Borvig / Chicago American). Sourced from Chicago Tribune.


Because it was so easy to eat and fun for families in the summertime, Burt had the idea to sell Good Humor bars in what would be the first series ice cream trucks. With the automobile and fast food boom, the time was right. He invested in white, refrigerated trucks around town, and was sure to give drivers a bright white, professional-looking uniform to ensure cleanliness and safety to parents. Burt even used a bell from his son’s bobsled to alert everyone that the ice cream man was nearby. This set the stage for the classic sound notifications for future ice cream trucks! (Source: Mental Floss)

While the Good Humor trucks thrived through the 1970s, a new kind of ice cream took to the streets - Soft-serve! In 1956, brothers William and James Conway founded the Mister Softee truck which was the first of its kind to offer soft-serve ice cream. Although they had some early issues with the trucks keeping the ice cream cold and soft, they are still thriving now with more than 600 trucks across 16 states. (Source: The Daily Meal)

retro summer decor and candles

Photo source: @BrooklynMemories

Technology has come a long way since the beginning of the ice cream truck. 100 years ago, ice cream men used blocks of dry ice to keep the ice cream cold. Once electrical refrigerators became available, this shifted the way ice cream was sold. More ice cream could be bought because it could stay cold longer and a wider selection of flavors could be offered. (Source: Gold Coast Ice Cream)

Ice cream trucks offer a universal nostalgic comfort. They transformed the way we consume sweet treats and they bring back such fun, fond memories, which is why they were the inspiration for part of our Summer Collection!

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