if you grew up in any US suburb (or even city for that matter), you'd recognize the sound from a mile away. at first it's somewhat muffled--almost like church chimes in the distance...but then it gets closer. bells that sing out a carnival tune. and every kid within earshot scrambles to collect as many coins as they can find.
can you venture a guess what i'm referring to? it's the ice cream man of course! no matter what game we were playing, who was winning or losing, we'd all drop everything for the ice cream man. if we were lucky enough to cobble enough money for two treats, i was ready: a scooter crunch pie (chocolate) and a screwball. note: i never particularly liked the orange sherbert-y flavored cone...but for some reason, getting to the bottom and finding out what color the screwball was, popping it into my mouth, checking to see what color it changed into--that was, for the moment, the reason for my existence.
the ice cream truck spread magic around the neighborhood. it's one of those childhood experiences that is sweet, pure and filled with happiness.
it reminds me of a saying my son used to say. at around 3 or 4, when he professed his love for me, he would squeeze me and say "i love you with hearts and stars!" to him, it was like the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the x factor that magnified his love exponentially. they were his favorite things--pure, simple, filled with happiness.
fast forward to today. there's an interesting phenomenon cropping up in chicago, and likely many other major cities. haute food trucks filled with gourmet treats, trolling neighborhoods and even downtown to sell their goodies.
the first i heard of it was in my office. "there's a cupcake truck making its way down michigan ave! it'll be in front of our building at 11am."
the drones awoke from their slumber. we all got a kick to our steps, rummaging through our wallets and purses to find some dollar bills.
truth be told, flirty cupcakes didn't deliver on the promise and the expectations, set up long ago by the ice cream man. their cupcakes were overpriced and the frosting pasty.
nonetheless, i was still in awe at our collective reaction to the concept: edible goodies delivered on a truck. it was like the second coming of the ice cream man and we, grown adults, swooned. now there are even more who are jumping on the bandwagon. there's the gastro-wagon, serving wild boar belly, blue cheese, date jam, romeseco sauce and onion sammies. and the happy bodega, a corner store on wheels selling ham and gruyere on crusty baguettes, fresh flowers and the morning paper.
the cynic in me looks at today's economy and raises an eyebrow. "ok, so you're schlepping cupcakes for $5 a pop from a truck with no overhead. how convenient."
but the optimist in me retorts back. maybe these folks are just that in tune with the magic that happens when you're rolling down the road doling out happiness in the form of cupcakes and sandwiches, flowers and dessert...hearts and stars.