There’s no question that the horrendously wow-distorted (and frequency attenuated) recording, played through the klaxon-honky speakers of the classic old ice-cream trucks is deeply imprinted on the minds of many North Americans from their youth – but this quieter and more patient sort of fellow, now much less often seen than when I was a kid, was an even better park-side treat – especially here in southern Ontario – which once had a generously long spring and fall both, and a relatively short and moderate summer.
The most commonly sought treat? (fidgety line-ups, every time) – little white-paper bags of fresh-made popcorn, so shiny with hot butter that the bag would be greasy and see-through in only a minute or so – and they were only fifteen cents – an awful lot more affordable than an ice-cream, and what’s more, far more savoury-satisfying. Cotton candy was not standard for his cart back then (at my park, anyhow) though those big red candy-apples were always present (and a reliably great way to work a loose-tooth right out of your head without minding nearly as much as you might, otherwise).
The giant ‘all-day-sucker’ lollypops, and those funny red spiral hard-candy sticks were arrayed-there temptingly in the old days too – but sadly, this modern fellow did not have the absolute premium cart-treat going on the day I encountered him (hopefully only because it wasn’t the right season for it to be in demand quite yet).
When we really wanted a serious reward, we’d go for fresh-roasted chestnuts – and there was a tiny little burner on the side of that (yes, entirely wooden) cart, which gave off some of the most delicious fall cooking-smells of my young life (but don’t go rushing-it and burn your tongue – again!).
Hey – much as I like the (pedal only – zero gasoline – eco brilliant) popcorn cart, I’m no partisan on the subject, and have been known now and then to partake also of the strangely shaped and machine-extruded frosty treat on wheels.
Mostly disappointing experiences with it this century (whatever the cheaper trucks are using instead of milk is much less convincing than ever), but now and then I get lucky and find the sort of anticipation we see depicted here not only justified and soon gratified but indeed sweetly augmented.
Everyone goes to five-year-old mode, just for a few giggling seconds at least, when the ice-cream starts melting down your fingers and you know you’re going to be a mess before you’re finished – and you suddenly realize that even with all those many years of additional gravitas accumulated – you still don’t care!