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Classic Ice Cream Truck Treats, Ranked

Are you more of a Choco Taco or a Screwball?

Erica Silverstein · about 2 months ago

  • cooking
Ice Cream Truck Treats, Ranked

Heeral Chhibber

Back in the day, nothing got kids moving faster than the sound of the ice cream truck’s tinny music ringing out through the neighborhood. A buck or two of change in your pocket would buy you a frozen treat on a stick that you’d lick furiously before it melted all over your face and hands. 

The decisions were tough — did you go for the chocolatey ice cream sandwich or the fruity bomb pop? Which tasty treat would get you the most sugary thrill for your money? As a chocoholic, I admit this ranking of classic ‘80s-era ice cream treats might be a littttttle biased, but it's a solid place to start when you're facing down a truck-side's worth of options and the line behind you is getting restless. 

15. Choco Tacos

Back in the ‘80s, a clever businessman said, “Hey, if we turn the Drumstick sideways, we can create a dessert taco out of the ingredients we already have on hand!” If you liked the combination of sugar cone, vanilla ice cream, and nutty chocolate coating, you always had a backup plan if the kid in front of you snapped up the last cone. 

14. Drumstick

We imagine a team of white-coated geniuses huddled in a lab, pondering the great question of the universe: How do you create an ice cream cone that can be packaged and sold on a truck? Eureka! The Drumstick was born, and cone lovers could finally enjoy a scoop of vanilla with nuts and chocolate coating outside of the ice cream parlor — even if the sugar cone was inevitably soggy. 

13. Looney Tunes Ice Pops

Biting the face off your favorite Looney Tunes character was always a satisfying way to spend a summer snack time. The fact that the actual pops looked like bizarro versions of the original characters, with misshapen or bulging gumball eyes, only added to the appeal.

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Heeral Chhibber

12. Snow Cone

Snow cones prove that kids will eat anything topped with a little color and a little sugar. This ice cream truck classic is basically a cup of ice, drizzled with fruit-flavored syrup. But on a hot, hot day, sucking down those icy chunks was pure bliss. 

11. Creamsicle

Is it ice cream? Is it a popsicle? The aptly named creamsicle was a delicious mystery on a stick, with its hybrid frozen treat texture. In the world of ice cream trucks, ice cream comes in either chocolate or vanilla, and fruity treats are always icy, so the creamsicle was a solid option for kids who wanted a creamy concoction in a fruit flavor.

10. Firecrackers / Bomb Pops / Rocket Pops

Call them what you will, these three-flavored popsicles look so cool with their rocket-like shape and red, white, and blue patriotic color scheme. Ideal for the child who can't choose just one flavor, these pops feature a delicious cherry top, a sour lemon middle, and a blue raspberry reward.

9. Chipwich

The Chipwich is a brilliant idea: vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies and rolled in chocolate chips. The only reason it’s not higher on this list is that in practice, the cookies were either too soggy or too frozen — not that that prevented us from gobbling these up.

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Heeral Chhibber

8. Italian Ice

When you could score a watermelon or cherry, Italian ices rated high. You got your wooden spoon and frozen flavored syrup at the bottom — even a paper top you can lick. But lemon was a total bummer we’d rather skip than sample. (We hear that other ice cream truck customers find that flavor refreshing, so don’t let us yuck your yum.)

7. Double Pops

Double stick popsicles are double the icy fun. You just have to overlook the fact that halfway through, the two sticks will probably break apart and half the treat might end up in the dirt. It was still more fruity ice than a single popsicle. Just avoid the lime flavor at all costs.

6. Screwball

Another twofer treat lands high on the list because kids are, as we used to say in Boston, wicked smart. Was the ice-cold gumball buried at the bottom of a plastic cone of cherry sherbet worth the slog to the bottom? You bet!

5. Fudgsicle

Chocolate on a stick? Sign us up. Fudgsicles always managed to be more creamy than icy, landing them in the top 5. (As adults, we appreciate these as a lower-calorie chocolate frozen treat.)

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4. Push-Ups and Rocket Pops

We’d love to talk to the genius marketer who invented push-ups. Take a toilet paper roll, fill it with sherbet or ice cream, affix a plastic plunger to the bottom, and have kids push up the ice cream as they eat it. 

Many grownups still dream of the famous Flintstone orange sherbet push-ups, but we kids from the Northeast adored Hood brand Rockets, filled with vanilla ice cream and a fudge swirl center. We swear we saved the rolls and plungers for craft projects — maybe race cars? — but we can find no evidence of our early adoption of recycled art. 

3. Ice Cream Sandwich

The ice cream sandwich ranks high among ice cream truck treats because it’s the frozen version of an Oreo. Everyone has their own way to eat one. We started by licking the vanilla ice cream off the edges of the chocolate cookie, and finished with bites of chocolate and vanilla together. Some kids peeled one rectangular cookie off the sandwich and ate that separately, but that just made a mess and got chocolate stuck to your fingers. Still: Delicious, and worth the effort.

2. Chocolate Eclair

Coming in right behind the crunch bar is the chocolate eclair. Now we kids had no idea this ice cream treat was inspired by a French pastry. We just knew it was ice cream cake on a stick. You got two flavors of ice cream — chocolate and vanilla — surrounded by a cake crumb coating. 

Some ice cream trucks offer the strawberry shortcake and toasted almond versions of the eclair, but nothing tops the chocolate variety (strawberry is a contender, but almond is not).

1. Candy Center Crunch

The ultimate ice cream truck treat was, hands down, the candy center crunch. When you only have a dollar, you go for the twofer: ice cream and a candy bar. Candy crunch bars weren’t always on the menu, so it was your lucky day when you found them. Because underneath the Nestles crunch bar coating and vanilla ice cream was a thick chocolate bar you could sink your teeth into. 

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Heeral Chhibber