Ah, the ice cream truck. An all-American staple of childhood. But what's this? The truck's driver is a Child Hater who's doing this as a front to sell drugs? Or maybe he's a pedophile who can't keep his Mr. Softie in his pants? Or, worse yet, he's an uncaptured serial killer who's keeping the bodies between the fudge pops and the Creamsicles? And his truck is either an Alleged Car (either played straight or exaggerated), redesigned from a paddy wagon or a discarded military vehicle, or looks as if it was featured on an episode of Pimp My Ride (Truth in Television: there really was an episode of Pimp My Ride in which an ice cream truck driver calls upon Xzibit and his ride-pimping crew to make his ride a cool one).
For some reason, ice cream truck drivers in fiction are hardly ever as wholesome as one might expect. The trope is named after the Good Humor ice cream company. May overlap with Monster Clown.
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In Fullmetal Alchemist, the "Funny Bear" ice cream truck shows up in Central to hand out ammunition, mortars, and other materials. The enemy forces radio each other to watch out for the ice cream truck, so Mustang's team repaints it as the "Funny Bear" hot dog truck.
The original version of Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) has a scene in which a violent street gang drives menacingly back and forth past a parked ice cream truck. After they've seemingly moved on, a little girl comes up and buys a cone while her father uses a phone booth up the street. After she leaves, the gang ambushes the driver and knocks him unconscious; meanwhile, the little girl, unaware of all this and discovering she's been given the wrong flavor, returns to the truck and gets shot and killed point-blank.
Not to mention that the ice-cream vendor keeps a sizable revolver stashed in his cab. Presumably for self-defense, but you never know...
Max Keeble's Big Move featured one of the antagonists as a rather maniacal ice cream driver who would love to torture the protagonist while on his newspaper route. He even modified his truck to have an ice cream cannon (at least in the opening dream sequence).
In Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, they have an ice cream truck named "Happy Herb's Nice Dreams". Take the words, "Ice Creams" and add a "N" in front and make "Creams" into "Dreams". Naturally, they sell marijuana from the truck, along with ice cream. How "wholesome" this is depends on your views.
In Bill Forsyth's Comfort and Joy, a radio personality is shaken from his post-breakup funk when he gets in the middle of a mob-grade territory war between rival ice-cream vendors (based on the Glasgow Ice Cream Wars — see 'Real Life').
Help! — the Eastern death cult tails Ringo in a "Yippee! It's Mister Whippy!" ice-cream van. As thugs exit from the truck, one is eating a cone.
A Mister Whippy van also appears in 28 Weeks Later. The trope is teasingly hinted at and then averted.
It should be noted that Mr. Whippy is a real company, that operates in the UK as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Skids and Mudflap of Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen take this trope one step further, as they actually are the ice cream truck (both of them). This doesn't stop them from being decidedly child-unfriendly, from yelling profanity-laced death threats through their bullhorn to posting offensive decals on their sidesnote i.e. SUCK MY POPSICLE. It is, however, played for laughs.
There's one in Legion. The truck's completely normal. The driver however...
Dr. Claw's henchmen Brick and McKible drive an ice-cream delivery truck in Inspector Gadget 2. Oddly enough, its trunk is large enough to accommodate Claw's escape jet.
In Friday, Smokey owes money to the drug dealer Big Worm which he uses an ice cream truck as a cover up. Big Worm takes the boy's money without giving his order by saying it's closed.
In Borat, Borat and Azamat acquire an ice cream truck for transportation, and after some thought they also acquire an animal to guard the truck. So naturally there is a scene where a bunch of kids run up expecting ice cream, and instead find a black bear.
An ice cream truck is home to an illegal gun dealer in Southland Tales. The Agony Booth called this out, pointing out that an ice cream truck would bring attention that an illegal gun dealer would not want.
Prom Night III: The Last Kiss has Mary Lou Maloney appear as an ice cream vendor to a teacher, whom she kills with a pair of cones and an electric mixer.
The beginning of Act of Valor has the Chechen terrorist Abu Shabal driving what looks like an ice cream truck in the Phillipines to a school. Said ice cream truck turns out to be a suicide car bomb, which kills the US Ambassador, his son, and several Filipino schoolchildren.
The eponymous character in Some Guy Who Kills People works at an ice cream parlor.
There's a Wallace Stevens poem called The Emperor of Ice Cream that's sort of hard to interpret, but the first stanza is definitely talking about an ice cream man, and the second is definitely talking about a dead body. Whether the first is the cause of the second can't be determined, but it's all rather creepy. Critics seem to favor the theory that it's about the wake of the old lady who's lying dead in the second stanza. In which case, the partying in the first stanza might be seen as either life-affirming or callous.
Speaking of Stephen King, while it's not exactly an ice cream truck a couple of his short stories deal with a psychopathic milkman who plants poisonous spiders in his milk box, hands out all-purpose cream laced with highly corrosive acid and cartons of poisoned drinks, and was implied to have planted a bomb in one of his packages, which went off some time prior to the events of the story. All the stuff he needs is in his milk truck.
Gahan Wilson wrote a short story called "Mr. Ice Cold". The ice cream truck and its driver look innocent enough at first. But then, a boy notices that there's one door on the truck that is never opened. One day he decides to take a quick peek inside the door and gets a nasty shock. Let's just say that Mr. Ice Cold prefers a different kind of treat besides ice cream.
Subverted in an Encyclopedia Brown story, where a clown who drove an ice cream truck disappeared along with a young boy and was accused of kidnapping him. Turned out they'd both been kidnapped.
A variation on this is seen in the Philip Jose Farmer classic The Pre Persons. Twenty Minutes into the Future, abortion is not only legal, but children up to the age of twelve can be "aborted". Parents must get a license (known as a D-card, for "desirability"), if they can afford one — or the kid gets picked up by the abortion truck, taken to the pound and euthanized. Parents can also turn kids in if they don't want them any more. The abortion truck cruises neighborhoods looking for "strays", playing tinkly ice-cream-truck music to lure them out.
The MI High episode "Animal Spies" had a SKUL agent basing himself out of an ice cream truck.
A Tales from the Crypt episode ("People Who Live In Brass Hearses") featured an ex-con trying to get revenge on an ice cream truck driver who, unbeknownst to the ex-con and his brother, was actually Siamese twins joined at the back. By the end, one twin has been murdered and the other continues to drive around in the truck with his dead, decaying twin still attached.
One episode of Malcolm in the Middle featured a cranky, sadistic ice cream man who refused to sell any ice cream to the kids despite all of them being stuck for hours on a blocked road in the desert... yet let the kids watch him eat an ice cream bar inside the refrigerated truck.
Shameless: the Maguires use an ice cream van as a front for dealing drugs and give Frank a job on it. ("If someone asks for a smartie...give them a pill. If someone asks for a polo...give them a pill.") Backfires somewhat when Frank takes some himself and ends up giving pills to an old woman who wanted some actual smarties.
One of the specials for The Adventures of Pete & Pete revolved around Mr. Tastee, an otherwise-amiable ice-cream man who always wore a mask in the shape of a grinning soft-serve cone and was hinted to have a shady past. In fact, the episode implies that the entire ice cream man profession, with its wandering routes and bright, happy masks, is actually an informal brotherhood for those seeking to escape and/or forget.
The Showtime series Masters Of Horror has an episode titled "We All Scream for Ice Cream". It's about a demonic, undead clown who works in an ice cream truck. His method is to sell ice cream to children, who then cause their parents to melt into a colored mess not unlike that of melted ice cream as soon as they bite into it.
The Drew Carey Show has an old ice-cream truck being used to distribute Buzz Beer. Disappointing when kids find out they don't have any ice cream, and rude when they keep getting asked, but not actively evil.
In the second episode of the original Life On Mars, Sam Tyler drives a witness incognito in an ice cream truck, hoping to spot a suspect. Some little girls run up asking for ice cream, only to be confronted by Gene Hunt scoffing down a cone and Flipping the Bird, causing the girls to break down in tears.
Freddy Krueger in Freddy's Nightmares had one for luring in kids stored in his power plant base.
In an episode of Happy Days, Fonzie quits his vehicle-repair job and must find a new way to make a living. He tries driving an ice cream truck, but he hates it because "Whenever I got it up to speed, some kid started chasin' after me wavin' a dime!"
A Get Smart episode has a KAOS agent driving an ice-cream truck — he abducts Hymie the robot by asking him to reach way inside for a fudgesicle, then shoving him in. Hymie's first words when he's released — "Here's your fudgesicle."
The Hub series The Haunting Hour has a story called "Catching Cold," about a fat boy who pursues an ice cream truck and how the ice cream truck seems to favor him. Turns out the ice cream truck is haunted and traps those who are so obsessed with ice cream that they are willing to actively chase down the truck. It was also behind the disappearance of a boy in the late 1970s/early 1980s who did the same thing as the fat boy now and is now a fat, insane man who is more than willing to let the boy of 2011 trade places with him so the ice cream truck can feed off his soul.
The villains of Ace Lightning use Duff Kent's ice cream truck to get around. They even use it to stalk and kidnap the protagonist.
In an episode of 1000 Ways to Die, Salvatore uses an ice cream truck as a front to distribute drugs, but after an attempted holdup, the truck’s freezers suffer a freon leak that poisons him. Oh, and the truck crashes. The segment name: "ice Fiend Man."
Yet another drug-dealing ice cream truck in "Find Your Happy Place" episode of Life. Crews' take-down isn't perfectly smooth:
Perp [from gurney]: You didn't say three! You didn't even get to three! You shot me on two! You didn't get to three.... Reese: He's right, you know — you didn't get to three. Crews: I rounded up.
An episode of Sesame Street has an ice cream company called "Bad Humor", run by grouches. They sell ice cream flavors that appeal exclusively to grouches, such as chocolate-covered pickle and spinach vanilla crunch, and will not stop ringing their bell until someone buys their ice cream.
The song was actualized into a real demonic ice cream truck by a fan of the band from Minnesota. The truck is referred to as Hell General. General because it is made from an AM General postal truck and Hell because of where it supposedly comes from.
Steve Taylor's "I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good" is about an ice cream truck driver who bombs an abortion clinic.
In the 1940's, the Kay Kaiser Orchestra recorded a song called "The Bad Humor Man".
Professor Elemental's "Animal Ice Cream", about selling your favorite ice cream mixed with bits of your favorite animal, from the back of a stolen ice cream truck.
From "The Winker's Album (Misprint)" by Ivor Biggun:
Mr Fellatio, the ice-cream man
Goes jingle jangle int' ice cream van
Mr Fellatio... all the children say... "Hell-o!"
To Mr Fellatio, the ice... cream... maaaaan.
The song "Ice Cream Man", by Sloppy Seconds, is all about this trope.
Tim Minchin: Sorry, sorry, that's totally inappropriate. It's awful what I just did there when you think about it; I just made the assumption that having an ice cream van makes you a pedophile. It's awful... It's probably the other way around.
And the ice cream man always drove an extra block! And I know he seen us! He probably had a friend in the truck and was telling him, "Watch how fast I make these little motherfuckers run." Vrooom!
Needles Kane from the Twisted Metal series drives Sweet Tooth, perhaps the most famous video game example of this...except his truck serves up missiles and other assorted armaments. He still hands out tasty kid's treats from it, just be prepared for the explosives and napalm is packs in the cones and ice cream sandwiches.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has a campaign where it turns out the ice cream factory is owned by a nasty old woman who hates children, who only uses ice cream as a front for her cocaine trafficking operations, and the ice cream trucks sell drugs instead. When you actually get the factory and ice cream truck, both of them are horribly glitched and unusable (saving at the factory corrupts your save file), so really it's the factory and truck that are at fault. Taking one of the ice cream trucks to another business you own, a car dealership/chop shop, helps complete the main storyline. "We need you to steal...um....take...we need an ice cream truck, okay?" It's also impossible to sell ice cream to kids, even if you wanted to, considering there are no kids in the game.
It's entirely possible to run people over with the truck...but that's possible with all vehicles.
Bonus: A secondary mission ends with the player murdering about a dozen mysterious people on the rooftop of the ice cream business based on an intercepted call.
In the flash game Cream Wolf, the Ice Cream Truck driver is actually a Werewolf who's fattening kids up so that he can bait them back to his place when full moon arrives and proceed to "Make new flavors" out of them. It's even complete with a creepy jingle during midnight.
One of the enemies in Toejam And Earl is a phantom ice cream truck that randomly appears and disappears and tries to run down our alien heroes.
Ice Cream Man: I can't even eat ice cream anymore, because of the pain!All because of you and your stupid pennies!!!
Moral Orel has Mr. Creepler, a pedophile and serial rapist. By season 3 however, it's stated that he died in prison, though he's left some lasting trauma on one of his victims.
Hey Arnold! had an ice cream man named "The Jolly Olly Man" (voiced by Dan Castellaneta, using a voice that sounds like a mix between his normal voice and a bitter, insane take on Arnie Pie [the helicopter news reporter who hates Kent Brockman]) who hated kids and in one episode was on the verge of getting fired because his attitude was hurting sales. In another episode, he tried charging kids $20 for ice cream during a heat wave.
Codename: Kids Next Door had an entire organization of ice cream men that were keeping all the ice cream for the adults.
Ice cream men are often used as Mooks for various villains.
In an episode of The Mighty B!, there's one of these: the driver gets pissed off at Bessie because she reports him to his manager (just because he accidentally ran ONE stop sign in ten years of driving the truck).
In Bessie's defense, she thought she was calling the actual driver; she didn't know it was the phone number of his manager's office.
An episode of Justice League features a man in an ice cream truck prominently, and he does have a dark secret, although this example is more like the Charmed subversion listed above. By the end, we learn he's been driving that truck for 40 years, give or take a few days and is glad to finally escape!
The Simpsons episode "Bart of Darkness" opens with Springfield suffering a blistering heat wave. An ice-cream truck comes down the street with the driver shouting, "Ice cream! Ice cream!" ...but, when the children run up to it, they hear his entire sentence: "I'm all outta ice cream!" And then, right after that comes another, similar truck:
Truck driver: Chili! Red-hot Texas-style chili! And we got ginger ale; boiling hot Texas-style ginger ale!
An early episode of Invader Zim featured an ice cream truck that blared ominous-sounding propaganda from its speakers.
YOU LIKE ICE CWEAM. YOU LIKE ICE CWEAM. YOU LOVE IT. YOU CANNOT RESIST ICE CWEAM. TO RESIST IS HOPELESS. YOUR EXISTENCE IS MEANINGLESS WITHOUT ICE CWEAM.
Cars: The first opponent Tormentor (Mater's monster truck wrestler alter ego) had to face in Monster Truck Mater is a modified ice cream monster truck named Ice Screamer.
When Boog is behind the wheel of the Frosty Bus, there's no chance for Fanboy and Chum Chum to get their Frosty Freezy Freeze.
A common gag in most of the Tex Avery cartoons would show the bad guy apparently holding up an armored car/stagecoach (or whatever was period-appropriate) only for the camera to pull back and show he's actually robbing an ice cream truck.
One episode of Kim Possible set in Florida had Drakken staking out in an ice-cream truck with the intent of tapping into the MP3 players of all the teenagers on Spring Break, making them his mind-controlled slaves. (He got the frequency wrong and ended up tapping into the hearing aids of all the retirees living there.)
Hinted at on Family Guy; local pedophile Herbert wanted an ice cream truck.
In one episode of Generator Rex, the villain Gatlocke has a fleet of vehicles, including an ice cream truck that's been given the Mad Max treatment.
The GlasgowIce Cream Wars (or, more accurately, the Glascow Gangs Who Liked To Use Ice Cream Trucks As A Cover For Heroin and Stolen Goods Selling Wars):
The conflicts, in which vendors raided one another's vans and fired shotguns into one another's windscreens, were more violent than might typically be expected between ice-cream salesmen.
Mafia hitman Robert Pronge drove a Mister Softee truck to appear inconspicuous.
Richard "Iceman" Kuklinski froze his victims' bodies in an ice cream truck to skew the estimated time of their death Maybe.
Kenneth Bianchi, one of the Hillside Stranglers, worked as an ice cream man. A suspected victim of his disappeared when she went out one day to buy a cone.
Fred West, another serial killer, also worked as an ice cream man. While one, he accidentally ran over a kid.
The Topps trading card series Weird Wheels had a card titled Bad Humor Truck.
One of Jean Shepherd's greatest stories on his radio show was about the price war that broke out between two stores directly across the street from one another. The group coming for the bargains kept growing and reversing direction with every competing penny drop in the price. Soon word got out and there was a rumbling on the horizon as hordes began arriving for the cheap ice cream.