Bad Humor Truck
aka: Villainous Ice Cream Truck
This truck serves 41 flavors of TERROR AND CHAOS!
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
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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Anime and Manga
- Billy Kincaid, an early Spawn villain, uses an ice cream truck to get closer to children, whom he then kidnaps and murders.
- In the Batman comics, Mr. Freeze has hijacked an ice cream truck on at least one occasion. Though he stole it mainly to survive, as he can only live in cold temperatures.
- In G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #178, the Blue Ninjas launch an assault on Broca Beach. The head Blue Ninja masterminds the operation from a heavily armed ice cream truck that he uses to mow down Cobra forces.
- In Secret Six, the villainous (albeit protagonist) Ragdoll once stole an ice cream truck for the gang to escape in. This van is full of not creamy treats, but dangerous mercenaries. And creamy treats.
- The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, features the Bad Humor Man (Steve Whitmire), who is the Trope Namer.
- Ice Cream Man, a horror film starring Clint Howard as a killer ice cream man.
- 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).
- The Stephen King-directed Maximum Overdrive includes a blood-smeared ice cream truck among the killer machines that menace its human characters. It can be seen patrolling the suburbs, and later getting its just desserts near the end.
- 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.
- The heroes of Killer Klowns from Outer Space are "helped" by two idiots who "work" by driving an ice-cream truck.
- 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 . 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.
- Psychotic clown Javier in The Last Circus drives one.
- Detective Thorne's informant in Hellraiser: Inferno is a sleazy ex-con ice cream man who has covered the inside of his truck with pornographic images.
- In Killjoy the titular Monster Clown uses an ice cream truck that acts as a gateway to an Abandoned Warehouse.
- 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.
- In the novel The Clairvoyant Countess by Dorothy Gilman there is a significant ice cream truck company run by a very scary bad guy.
- 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.
- 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 Rutles' song "Doubleback Alley" has a line about the funny man in the ice cream van who talked so queer...
- Strapping Young Lad's secret song from their album Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, "Satan's Ice Cream Truck" about Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- 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.
- The Far Side plays with this several times.
- I cuss, you cuss, we all cuss for asparagus!
- There's another strip with the self-explanatory Liver-And-Onions Truck. And kids are hiding from the truck, implying they'll get the treats whether they like it or not.
- There's also the "Vaccination Van", and the van's driver is actually hoping that kids mistake him for the usual ice cream truck.
- A Pearls Before Swine comic has Pig getting hit by an ice cream truck.
- Gahan Wilson has an ice cream man opening the compartment to reveal a truckful of frozen child corpses. "Wrong door!"
- Monty tries a job as an ice-cream truck driver, but terrifies kids when he unwittingly wears melted cherry popsicle stains all over his white suit.
- 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 & Earl is a phantom ice cream truck that randomly appears and disappears and tries to run down our alien heroes.
- One Scooby-Doo episode is actually titled "The Ghost of the Bad Humor Man", and in fact contains an armored vehicle painted to act as an ice cream truck driven by wanted criminals.
- In an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, the ice cream truck driver has a grudge against Dexter because he once paid him with a heavy jar of pennies which caused him to trip and break his tooth which in turn made him lose his apartment, his car, his girlfriend and forced him to live under a bridge, effectively causing his entire life to be ruined; and thus refuses to stop for him.
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.
- There's one in the first episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot.
- The Tom and Jerry movie has one of the villains steal an ice cream cart and use it as his vehicle in the finale. There's even a shot from the cart's point of view of him stalking towards it with an evil grin on his face.
- 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.
- The Fairly OddParents has Crocker's van, which is often disguised as an ice cream truck.
- In the Looney Tunes episode "Yankee Doodle Bugs", an ice cream truck shows up during the Continental Army's winter encampment at Valley Forge. The irked soldiers promptly shoot it full of holes.
- Bugs Bunny Nips The Nips has Bugs in an ice cream truck selling ice cream bars loaded with hand grenades to Japanese soldiers.
- 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 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.