O-oh, Ice Cream Man!
March 24, 2008 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Sometimes, the ice cream man sounds menacing. Sometimes, the ice cream man is more psychedelic than any ice cream man has a right to be.[MP3] Sometimes, he's a public menace who must be stopped. Some people really want to understand the ice cream man.[PDF] And some love the ice cream man just the way he is.
posted by freshwater_pr0n (32 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
That is a pretty chill mp3, freshwater.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:00 PM on March 24, 2008

For the curious: an acquaintance of mine on StumbleUpon informed me that the tune in that first link is an off-key version of a song called "The British Grenadiers", and has been used in the movies The Patriot and the Italian Job, among others. I'm having a hard time matching the tunes given the difference in tone, but the repeating "bum-bum-BUM-bum bumbumbumbum bum" sounds the same in both.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:01 PM on March 24, 2008

Rhaomi, it's the Waits Carol. Some internet detectives reveal their discovery in the comments thread of the first link.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 7:11 PM on March 24, 2008

Whatever you think of the ice cream man, you can't deny his tactical uses.
posted by eustatic at 7:16 PM on March 24, 2008

My local ice cream truck (trucks? I've not done a detailed band and release study on them but the idea has a sort of charm to it) is your basic bland calliope music except every so often there is this voice that says, "Hello!" but isn't quite right - like what if Moon Zappa doing here very best "Oh mah gawd!" voice taught a crow to speak.

Or maybe it's just a crappy recording of a crappy recording.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:20 PM on March 24, 2008

I was an ice cream man the first time I lived in Portland (years ago). I wouldn't turn the music on unless I had to--it was four different songs that were all equally annoying ("Do your ears hang low, can you tie them in a bow..." and some other crap I've thankfully blocked out).

It was a great job, really, but there were a few things that were really annoying:

1. "Dude, you should totally get your truck to play that Van Halen song. That would be awesome." *me looks blankly, just because it was funnier that way* "Dude, you don't know that song? You should go get it now."

2. "Do you have anything that doesn't have chemicals? That's all natural? No, I don't think we'll buy anything today, kids. Just go back to the backyard and swim in the pool." And it was never a wading pool.

3. "You ever have someone rob you?" This was usually said with a chuckle. I had a box I kept all the money in and this was always the inevitable question. I did have some guy believing I had a gun in the box after he was dumb enough to ask the question once, but, really, why would you ask that?

I gave away so much ice cream to little kids that didn't have enough money. Man, that always broke my heart.

Also, I used to drive the little three-wheeled mobile around to all the record stores when the kids were not coming out to chase me down (afternoon is never good for ice cream for some reason).

Good times, great times.

Thanks for the post.
posted by sleepy pete at 7:21 PM on March 24, 2008 [4 favorites]

90% of the creepiness of that song is from the haunted-music-box-in-the-abandoned-attic sound.
posted by DU at 7:23 PM on March 24, 2008

Last summer I kept running into this Latin guy in the Badlands who blasted a bootleg copy of the Mister Softee song from his minivan while selling ice cream from Igloo coolers out the side door.
posted by The Straightener at 7:31 PM on March 24, 2008

As a longtime fan of bent, distorted, out-of-tune and/or underwater-sounding ice cream truck jingles, I thank you for this post, f_p.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:38 PM on March 24, 2008

You want menacing? Steve Buscemi drove an ice cream truck before becoming an actor.
"I'm very sorry about the Fruity Shots. That's fucked up. But we ain't taking him to a hospital."
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:44 PM on March 24, 2008

My favorite ice cream vendors...
posted by not_on_display at 7:48 PM on March 24, 2008

Creepy = minor notes?
posted by ZaneJ. at 7:57 PM on March 24, 2008

This fucking song drove me absolutely fucking nuts driving through my neighborhood a couple of summers ago.


I wanted to murder the truck driver.
posted by empath at 8:05 PM on March 24, 2008

freshwater_pr0n: "Rhaomi, it's the Waits Carol. Some internet detectives reveal their discovery in the comments thread of the first link."

Thanks for the correction! I'll pass it on.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:10 PM on March 24, 2008

A hundred million favorites for that "Soft Serve" article in PDF. It's worth the click - an ethnomusicologist outlines the history of the association between ice cream and musical sounds. Among other things, I now know that "I Scream for ice cream" dates to at least 1828. Fantastic!
posted by Miko at 8:22 PM on March 24, 2008

In our old neighborhood there were no fewer than three ice cream trucks that all played "Turkey In The Straw" (or as I like to think of it, "Do Your Boobs Hang Low?") all in different keys and slightly different tempos. Sometimes they'd converge on the block at the same time and it was like a perfect storm of head asplosion.

I do love me some Choco Taco though.
posted by padraigin at 8:28 PM on March 24, 2008

I was surprised to not see a link to this interview here -- it's with musician Michael Hearst regarding his CD Songs for Ice Cream Trucks. Interesting concept, interesting interview.
posted by lumensimus at 8:40 PM on March 24, 2008

My own favorite ice cream man moment took place in the early nineties, when I was living in the Mission in SF. One evening, just as the sun was setting, I walked right into the Convergence of the Jingle Carts. You know, the guys who push handcarts full of frozen treats down the city sidewalks?

Hundreds of Jingle Carts chiming in cacophonous unity, pushing toward their goal, the ramp of a giant truck that would whisk the Jingle Carts to Daly City or wherever to be refilled and reinforced for another day on the streets of San Francisco.

It was positively Felliniesque, and magical enough to delay my departure from the Bay Area for another year.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 9:19 PM on March 24, 2008

I was the Fat Kid.
My Mom (size two--must've been adopted) would hustle me indoors when she heard the truck coming.
The siren bouncing over the stucco walls, the screechy tape-loop splashing across the Yucca plants on my block.
My Daddy long gone and my babysitter high in the car-park.
I closed my eyes tight.
See! I'm asleep! I'm pleasing you with This Nap!
I have no desires!
I'm a Good Boy!
Hershey's Kisses wrappers under my pillowcase, inside. The louvers low and cool. My secret.
Buddies in ectasy outside, melting glycerin, fingers sticky, hands on faces and Mommy talks to a neighbor.
I was the Fat Kid.
At dusk I pretended not to see the wrappers on the curb, their edges clasped in fraternal clasps, the ants doing their work while I went hunting.
posted by Dizzy at 9:28 PM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Youtube fails me; I cannot find any clips of the "What We Did On Our Summer Vacation" episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, in which our eponymous heroes attempt to uncover the mystery of Mr. Tastee. One of the finest televisual depictions of the travails of the suburban ice cream man.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:35 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Speaking of menacing ice cream trucks... this brings to mind Martin Scorsese's After Hours (trailer), which culminates with a guy getting chased through the streets of Brooklyn by a lynch mob led by a Mister Softee truck with its jingle blaring. It is easily the most surreal movie I have ever seen.

Adding to the weirdness for me is the fact that when I saw it the first time, it was because I was flipping channels late one night in Israel and happened to stumble upon the Mister Softee chase scene, with Hebrew subtitles, and absolutely no context. It was many years before I figured out what it was.
posted by purple_frogs at 10:03 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Can I get two white and a brown please, Mr Whippy?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:28 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

An excuse for Jonathan Richman's Ice Cream Man surely? Also a link to Comfort and Joy - a great movie about the Glasgow's (all too real) ice cream wars.
posted by rongorongo at 4:18 AM on March 25, 2008

I just saw what happens to the ice cream man's truck on a very hot day.

Plus, one of my favorite songs by Love is their classic "The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This".
posted by extrabox at 4:53 AM on March 25, 2008

Ever since watching the ice cream van sequence in Assault on Precinct 13, it just hasn't been the same...
posted by patricio at 8:11 AM on March 25, 2008

Sometimes you just got to clear your head, and the song finds YOU (NSFW audio).
posted by nanojath at 8:35 AM on March 25, 2008

isn't there a creepy ice cream truck in Los Angeles that plays it's music warped on purpose and has all sorts of really awful ice cream bars?

Also, I saw a movie on Sci Fi once called 'The Ice Cream Man' about a murdering psychopathic ice cream man, and at one point he snuck into a car where the cute girl is waiting for her boyfriend she sees him (too late!) and he says, "you're ice cream" and sticks a pointy thing through her jaw.

It was a very very very good movie.
posted by Large Marge at 9:26 AM on March 25, 2008

One summer weekend after moving into a new house, my husband and I had a friend stay with us after a party. He woke up late on Sunday afternoon, convinced he had experienced something paranormal. He told us that he had definitely been awake, but groggy, when he heard a woman's voice say "Hello" several times. My husband and I were skeptical. After all, this same friend swore up and down that a large black winged creature once jumped on his van near downtown.
The next weekend, while doing yard work in the late morning, we hear faint, tinkly strains of music and, every once in while, a cheerful "Hello." Soon, the local ice cream man comes putt-putting up the street, playing this tune.
To this day, we haven't let our friend forget his encounter with the "haunted" ice cream truck.
posted by gargoyle93 at 10:25 AM on March 25, 2008

Rangeboy, I immediately thought of The Adventures of Pete and Pete as well. "Does Mr. Tastee have any friends?"
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 9:23 PM on March 25, 2008

the psychedelic example is basskittens' creation for the freezing man truck at the 2006 burning man, i believe.
posted by Señor Pantalones at 2:02 PM on March 26, 2008

« Older Scientific Progress Goes "Wonk"   |   Ele-vision Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments