When I was little, I grew up on the kind of Chicago street with little brick houses and tiny yards with chain link fences. In the summer, all the kids would be out in the front yards running through sprinklers while moms sat on porches and gossiped. Dads mowed lawns, older kids rode their bicycles up and down the sidewalk, and little ones drew with chalk on the walks up to their homes. It couldn’t be more picturesque or All-American. Summer was a peaceful, joyous time.
Until, as we all know, the scorching summer sun reached its highest point in the sky. Because that’s when it would happen. A sound would start that would catch the ears of children all over the block. A twinkling little song that seemed to pierce the very air from miles away. And when you heard that sweet little tune* you froze. Literally, words were left unfinished with mouths hanging open. Droplets of water seemed to hover in the air. A jumping girl in the middle of a killer double dutch hung, suspended, pigtails sticking straight up towards the sky. And the faces of every child slowly began turning towards the sound. Our bodies were still frozen, but our heads rotated to face the stimuli. Some turned a clear 180 degrees. Our eyes went red. Drool slipped down the sides of cheeks. Somewhere close by, a boy moaned. Grunts began coming from all around, in fact.
Ice cream, Ice cream, Ice cream.
Like zombies catching the whiff of fresh blood, we began to roar. Then move, en masse. One shoulder was now higher than the other, and with our faces twisted and hands gnarled, we began to shuffle towards our houses.
Ice Cream. ICE CREAM. ICE CREAM.
As time sped back up, we started to sprint, screaming like banshees. The freeze that had mystically held inanimate objects in the air broke. Drinks shattered onto the pavement. Frisbees clattered noisily to the ground. Birds fell from the sky, by the hundreds, as we ran. It was coming. And this is what we trained for, g*ddammit.
“Mooooooooo-oooooooom!’” we bellowed as we ran.
The truck was pulling onto the street. Driving tantalizingly slow, the ice cream truck man leaned out of the window, smiling, that little smile just for us. He wanted us to have the delicious ice cream, wanted to take our money, but only if we could make it back fast enough. The ice cream man waits for no soul. He had better things to do with his time than wait for sniveling kids. Like, I don’t know, butcher squirrels or buy a new dress for the skeleton of his mother who was sitting in a rocking chair in his basement and constantly judged him, her empty eye sockets following him all over the room. If we were too late….no. It was too awful to even think about. As we ran, we saw the children whose parents loved them, already outside. Flagging the truck down. Waving dollar bills.
Some of us were not so lucky. Where were our mothers? The children who were still running? Some might say in the kitchen talking to our grandmother on a rotary style land line or folding the laundry in the living room. But as far as we were concerned, they might as well have been cooking meth in the bath tub and turning tricks in exchange for loose cigarettes. They were terrible parents.
“THE ICE CREAM TRUCK IS HERE, MOM,” we screeched. “MOOOOO-OOOOM, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHAT COULD YOU POSSIBLY BE DOING????? HURRRRRRRY. I NEED A DOLLAR. DEAR GOD, I NEED A DOLLAR. WHY AREN’T YOU MOVING. IT’S HEREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.”
The thought that we might miss the truck still fills me with genuine horror, some 20 years later. That a universe could exist where every other kid in the neighborhood would be savoring a sweet cone of magic while we were in our house, dealing with a person (who in that moment we were convinced) was literally the slowest human being we’d ever met, filled us with irrational fear and rage.
“WELL, WHERE IS YOUR PURSE, MOM? DID YOU LOCK IT IN A SAFE IN THE NEXT COUNTY? HE’S HERE. HERE! HE’S GONNA LEAVE. JESUS CHRIST, YOU SKANK, GET IT TOGETHER.”
When she finally produced a bit of cash, we’d snatch that two dollars out of her hand with a roughness that may or may not have knocked our sweet, little mothers to the ground. We did not care. We ran back towards the street holding up our two dollars like the headless horseman hoisting a head in the air after a kill. Triumphant, savage, blood dripping down our arms.
[Why was there blood? Because I said so. WHO’S TELLING THIS STORY?? We do this every week, Ted. It’s probably a little harmless hyperbole, TED. But you don’t know. Maybe, at seven years old, there was blood dripping down my arm because I had pulled out the heart of the last man who asked me a question WHILE I WAS TRYING TO TELL A STORY. May I continue?]
As I was saying, we ran, triumphant, until we reached the ice cream truck. Mercifully, it was still on the street, (let’s face it, we never missed it) and ordered our treat. Whether we ordered an ice cream sandwich or a popsicle, it was a moment of pure bliss as we gorged ourselves on the delights of the truck. For the truck was our God, and we, its lowly patrons scrambling for a couple of bucks to pay the toll required for our salvation.
And with that memory close at hand (and National Ice Cream day in my heart), I will try to rank the ice cream truck treats from the last thing you would ever choose but, like, they were sold out of everything else (and dammit, you are GOING to eat some ice cream today) to the very best treat you could ever imagine.
Our rating system for this list will be “Number of (theoretical, it’s just a joke, no need to Tweet about it) kids run over in the street while trying to catch the mysterious, seductive truck that sells the cream of ice.”
12. The Firecracker Popsicle
This popsicle thinks it’s hot shit. Soooooo patriotic. Yeah, I’ll admit it. It’s a very ‘American’ food item. And sure, if a terrorist touches it, their skin glows red and burns like the devil to holy water or a vampire to the sun. That’s a given. It’s why they make you take a lick of a firecracker while going through airport security these days. Right after they have you take off your shoes but before they yell loudly that the back of a security officer’s hand is about to touch your vagina.
But this is the lamest of the ice cream treats. IT’S JUST FLAVORED ICE. Do the colors look fun? Yes. But it’s not enough, guys. Plus, while the three flavored popsicle sounds good in theory? Is it? Is it good? Personally, I really only ever want the cherry part. So why am I eating a weird berry flavor a third of the time? And it’s messy. It always falls off the stick before you’re done with it. Then, you’re just licking up ice and food dye off of your palm like a disgusting animal the rest of the time. No thank you.
Rating: 1 (theoretical, it’s just a joke, no need to Tweet about it) kid run over by a Prius going 10 miles an hour while he screamed for the ice cream truck to stop.
He’s fine guys. Yes, his nose always looked squished like that….I think. And he always has blood coming out of one ear! Like 90 percent sure. It’s fine….right, Tommy? I’m gonna get you a nice Firecracker! I said I’m gonna….Oops. Well, at least he collapsed into the grass. Let’s let him sleep it off. He’s going to be right as rain in an hour or two. Right as rain.
11. Snow Cone
I have a real problem with flavored ice. If you’re at a carnival, and it’s your only option, then it’s perfectly acceptable (great even!) to enjoy a snow cone. But when you have the whole array of ice cream treats at your disposal, and you order a snow cone? There’s something wrong with you, I’m sorry. I’m not a doctor. But I can absolutely say without a doubt that you’re a sociopath unable to feel human emotions, and as such, have never felt the difference between the joy of a real treat and a snow cone. Have you killed before? That’s not for me to say. I’m also not a police officer. Though, to be fair, I think if I had to solve a crime, Law and Order SVU has taught me enough to figure out who did it. And my money’s on you, snow cone lover.
Rating: 2 (theoretical, it’s just a joke, no need to Tweet about it) kids run over in the street when the ice cream man saw them running in the rear view mirror and tried to back up to serve them.
At least they were doing what they loved!! Wait, that doesn’t make sense. Um….Ice cream God just wanted a couple more angels? Or um, when God closes a door, he…. um…you know what? I’m just going to stand by the hummus platter.
These are very delicious. I can’t rate them higher because…they’re just a little basic. Like when I make comments about how much I like brunch or squeal when pumpkin spice lattes are back in season. That kind of basic. You know like when I talk about how much I like my yoga teacher, or mention the Bachelorette, or every full moon grow hair all over my body and elongated teeth and claws and I go out into the city and eat people. Man, I’m such a basic bitch.
Rating: 3 (theoretical, it’s just a joke, no need to… do we really have to keep doing this part?) kids hit on their way to get to that ice cream truck. Let’s just say everyone holding a firecracker popsicle finally got the all red popsicle they secretly wanted. #Summer17
9. Orange Creamsicle
Real “sicle” trend on the bottom half of this list. It’s almost like, I don’t know, the Grim Reaper and his ominous sickle haunt me at every turn. And I run, from town to town, identity to identity, trying to escape him from collecting my soul as debt.
I didn’t know that the contract was going to expire so soon, guys. A guy in a suit magically appears before you, telling you to sign a contract for your soul in exchange for a slice of pepperoni pizza when you’re drunk, and you say yes, right? Yeah, I could have just ordered a pizza. But that would have taken at least 30 minutes. And the mysterious man with smoke coming out of his skull and bees coming out of his mouth every time he spoke had a piece of pizza right there…..
So does the word “sicle” fill me with terror that the Grim Reaper has finally caught up to me and will drag my damned soul to Hell for all eternity? No. I mean I don’t think that’s it, I barely even think about that. Just when I wake up screaming for mercy in the middle of the night, but like..doesn’t everybody do that?
And at the end of the day, I’m just not a popsicle person. That being said, the orange-y coating combined with the sweet vanilla cream flavor of the filling, is pretty tasty.
Rating: 4 kids slightly dinged over on your way to your Aunt’s house in the suburbs. But, it’s really not your fault, right? They shouldn’t have been running in the street. Especially not while you were so busy texting!
8. A character bar like Sonic the Hedge Hog, Mario, Sponge Bob, or a Ninja Turtle
These get a good rating because they’re cool looking. But taste wise, eh.
That’s it. You were expecting more? Well, there isn’t any more. “Eh.” That’s it. That’s what you get. So now, you gotta go back where you belong. Please, there’s no time…..Get OUT OF HERE. Can’t you see we don’t want you anymore? Go back from where you came from. Leave us alone (sobs) go. Goodbye my friend.
Rating: 5 kids run over by a van in a desperate dash to catch the ice cream truck. It’s sad, truly. But maybe one of them would have grown up to be a mass murderer. Let’s all just assume that, okay?
7. Klondike Bar
Klondike bars are super delicious. The simplicity of a layer of chocolate surrounding good old fashioned vanilla ice cream can’t be beat (except by the other foods ranked ahead of it…). And if we’re being honest right now, which I always am 100 percent of the time except when I’m not, there’s kind of a lot I’d do for a Klondike bar right now like….
….run over 6 kids with my car. Six innocent kids just trying to get to the ice cream truck in summer. Sorry kids, but Klondike demands quite a bit from their customers. It’s a terrible game that I signed up for years ago that I can never stop. “What would you do for a Klondike bar,” the mysterious text said. “Wanna play?”
“I’d drink a whole gallon of milk!” I said the first time. Things escalated from there. They hold my family hostage now and tell me to do terrible things by text message for a Klondike bar or they’re….displeased. The last time they asked me what would I do for a Klondike bar, I said, “NOTHING. This is over. I don’t care what you do anymore.”
And they sent me my sister’s head in a box.
I’ll never escape the Klondikers. Never. They always know where I am. Always.
6. Push Up Pop
Here’s what I appreciate about the push up pop. It take the messiness of the popsicle (like melting or falling apart before you’re done) and GIVES THE POWER BACK TO THE PEOPLE. I control how fast I eat that thing. And when I want more I just push it up. It’s simple. It’s smart. And it’s never once lied to me. I think that’s what I like about the Push Up Pop the most, it cannot talk. Unlike the other ice creams on this list THAT NEVER SHUT UP.
Rating: 7 kids. Is that a lot of kids? Maybe. But it’s all relative. The witch from Hansel and Gretel might say, “Please, that’s barely enough dead kids to make a stew!” So let’s respect each other’s cultures you know? And not assume that our definition of “so many chalk outlined kids” is the right definition. Maybe we’re all just different when it comes to this kid issue. And that’s okay.
5. Strawberry Shortcake Bar
Cake coated vanilla ice cream with strawberry filling! That’s a ‘coat’ing so beautiful that Dolly Parton should write a song about it. These aren’t perfect. They’re a little too sweet, and you wouldn’t want to have ten of them in a row. But they’re damn delicious just the same.
Rating: 8 kids run over in the street when the ice cream truck comes a callin’. It’s okay though, they all have health insurance though the ACA thanks to Obama so…oh that’s not a thing anymore? Why yes, they did have preexisting conditions. Right. Got it. Yeah, they’re all doomed.
The drum stick is a classic and delicious ice cream treat. The sugar cone with vanilla ice cream, chocolate coating, and nuts is (and always will be) a solid ice cream truck choice.
And I like that they got their name from the turkey bones that they pay the workers with. Yes, that’s right. Drumstick factory workers are paid in meat bones instead of real wages. Legend has it that the workers have evolved to need only the bones for nutrients and that they live in pure darkness 24 hours a day in a factory built right into a large cave. These drumstick makers can see in the dark hundreds of yards, and they hunt down and kill anyone who dares spelunk into their region. And while Drumstick employees can live off of just the turkey bones, once they get the taste of human flesh…they never go back, really. They spend their days luring campers down into the caves so they can gnaw on their corpses. At least that’s what I’ve heard.
Rating: 9 kids run over in the street while rushing to get to the ice cream truck. All of them were one of those “en” sounding names though. Aiden, Cayden, Braydon, Jayden, Hayden…so people didn’t mind so much.
3. Ice Cream Sandwich
The ice cream sandwich will always be one of my favorite desserts of all time. The perfect ratio of soft, chewy chocolate to vanilla ice cream is the best. How do they make the chocolate cookie part so soft? I don’t know. Are they witches? The only way we’ll know THAT for sure is to try drowning anyone who is an ice cream sandwich maker. If they live, then they were definitely a witch and if not, we’ll send a sincere apology to their next of kin. It’s the least we can do.
Rating: 10 kids. I’d like to say they didn’t go down just like bowling pins and that I didn’t yell, STRIKE!!!! When they went down, but…I promised I wouldn’t lie to you.
2. Choco Taco
The other day I showed my husband a video of an ice cream shop making ice cream tacos.
“It’s too much,” he said.
“What do you mean?” I said, incredulous. “You don’t want to eat there?”
“There are too many things to decide,” he continued. “It’s too overwhelming.
This was incredible. Because we live EXACTLY the OPPOSITE way, normally. I can never choose and get overwhelmed by too many options, while my husband picks one thing and has no regrets. So there’s something to be said about the fact that it was ice cream tacos that broke him completely. Is it because they’re too amazing, too decadent, too brilliant? I’d ask him to clarify, but I don’t know where he is. After he saw the video he muttered something about it all being too much and walked out the door.
That was a week ago, and the last time I saw him. I have to assume that he moved off the grid or something. He’ll turn up again. They always do.
Rating: 11 (still theoretical) kids running after the ice cream truck were (slightly) harmed in the making of this list. We took them to the (theoretical) hospital and their wounds turned out to be (theoretically) superficial.
No animals were hurt at all though. So…seems like a win, big-picture-wise.
1. Cookie Sandwich
Ah, the perfect ice cream treat. Two glorious chocolate cookies sandwiching vanilla ice cream. Could this be the only dessert I ever need in my life? Honestly? Maybe.
It’s really, really good, and clearly, the only right choice when ordering from an ice cream truck.
Rating: I’d run over every kid in the neighborhood for one of these babies.
What? What’s that you say? I don’t have to run over every kid in the neighborhood? I just have to pay three dollars and I can have the cookie treat? Well, that’s a fair deal, sir. And in honor of your fair and decent deal, I will return the favor by telling you the kids are already run over, BUT it’s on the house. My treat to YOU.