The Real Reason Ice Cream Trucks May Be Hard To Track Down This Year

Nothing says summer like the sound of the ice cream truck coming down the street. The familiar tune has long had children (and those young at heart) running to meet the truck to get their favorite treat. But inflation is taking a toll on these summer staples, and even keeping them off the roads. 

High gas prices coupled with supply chain shortages have forced many ice cream truck operators to stay mostly parked, preferring to show up at pre-booked events or at schools, where they know they'll find willing customers (via KHQA). Matthew Geller, CEO of the National Food Truck Association, told NPR that he's steering his members to catered events, saying, "Every day, I talk to someone that's making a decision about whether to vend or not based on how far it is."

And the sound of the ice cream truck isn't just silent on streets in the U.S. As Insider reports, operators in the U.K. are really feeling the pain at the pump, with the current price of fuel costing vendors close to $2500 a month. As Paul Field, owner of Maurice's ice cream in Reading, England, told Insider, "Expensive fuel costs are crippling my business." 

The fear among many in the industry isn't just that ice cream trucks will be off the roads this summer — but that they'll be off the roads for good.

Why ice cream trucks may stay parked this year ... and beyond

Maurice Murray, chairman of Britain's Ice Cream Mobilisers and Associated Trades Alliance, told Insider that he believes many trucks may not return after this summer. "We all feel that at the end of the summer season ice cream van owners will realize they don't have enough money to get them through the winter," Murray said. "For younger people in the industry they will have big mortgages and families to look after and the future looks very bleak for them."

People seek out food trucks partly for their affordability, but high gas prices and operating costs could begin to reflect the charges found at brick-and-mortar establishments, according to NPR. As Murray told Insider, as ice cream truck operators adjust their prices to account for inflation, it's turning the once affordable sweet treat into a luxury indulgence.

The future of ice cream trucks remains uncertain, but if you're missing your favorite ice cream truck treats, you could try your hand at making homemade versions of a Choco Taco or Snickers ice cream bar.