America’s 13 Wildest and Weirdest Ice Cream Trucks
It’s probably pretty easy for you to conjure an image of an ice cream truck in your head right now: white and shiny, rolling down the street playing a familiar jingle, with a big open window and photos of all of its frozen offerings pasted to the side. But if you think that every ice cream truck out there looks like that and serves the same menu, think again. Because these 13 trucks really don’t fit the mold.
While some ice cream truck owners aren’t allowed to make significant changes to their truck because of franchising rules, other owners really go out of their way to stand out. As opposed to the usual Mister Softee or Good Humor trucks, the more unique trucks are usually independently owned (or part of a small fleet) and run by folks who don’t just have an eye for design, they also know how to make some really good (and really unique) ice cream.
Some of these trucks are offshoots of already-established ice cream shops, some roam the streets of their hometowns, some are only available to cater parties and private events, and some are members of small fleets or local brands trying to make a name for themselves, but they all have one thing in common: There’s nothing else quite like them out there.
Frozen Kuhsterd (San Francisco, California)
Yelp/ Bryan R.
Denser and creamier than ice cream, frozen custard is made from a base of eggs, cream and sugar. Frozen Kuhsterd in San Francisco, California, has an extensive savory and sweet menu that is inspired largely from owner Jason Angeles’ childhood and Filipino-American background. Flavors such as avocado, toasted coconut, burnt caramel and sweet corn are only a few examples of what the menu has to offer. If you want your fix without having to track down the truck, there’s a scoop shop in Lower Haight.
Like No Udder (Providence, Rhode Island)
Yelp/ Janna D.
Like No Udder is the first all-vegan soft-serve ice cream truck, and it’s located in Providence, Rhode Island. Soft-serve, milkshakes, floats, frozen slushies and candy bars are all available in vegan preparations. Owner Karen Krinsky first owned the Screaming Carrot Vegetarian Bakery, a vegan baking business, but her long and early hours as a baker steered her toward the mobile food industry. But we aren’t complaining — these treats are too good to give up! The truck can be spotted at events (and is available for rental) in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut; and a brick-and-mortar location holds down the fort in Providence.
Dolci Peccatti Gelato (Miami, Florida)
Yelp/ Natalie Y.
Natalie Yepes had always found joy in gelato and ice cream, even when she worked as a graphic designer. But over time, she decided she would rather bring people happiness through her gelato and ice cream than continue her graphic work. So she quit her job, attended gelato school, pitched a thorough business plan, perfected the craft that is gelato-making, and now runs one of the top dessert trucks in Miami, Florida. Dolci Peccatti Gelato, which Yepes runs with her twin sister Stefanie, offers creamy gelato in flavors like amaretto and pistachio. The two experiment in the kitchen with flavors such as sweet corn and cheese, sweet potato with marshmallow and coconut, and guava merengue. They also sell ShotPops! (an alcohol-infused gelato shot), gelato sandwiches, milkshakes, dolci floats and ice pops.
Fluff Ice Truck (Los Angeles and Las Vegas)
Yelp/ Ryan P.
Fluff Ice fuses both Asian and non-Asian elements together, creating a shaved ice unlike any other. It started when Nicholas Huang and Annie Tran realized that not many people knew the kind of shaved ice often found in countries like China and Taiwan. It’s fluffy, creamy, and light, and toppings include red bean, egg pudding, mochi and mango, while the fluff varieties vary from Thai tea fluff to taro fluff to the simple original fluff. There’s a brick-and-mortar location in Las Vegas and the truck is available for private events in Vegas and Los Angeles.
Longboards Vintage Ice Cream (Los Angeles, California)
Yelp/ Ryan P.
The beauty of Longboards Vintage Ice Cream is the versatility — the possibilities are endless. Choose an ice cream base (such as coconut, strawberry, or coffee), select a shell to dip it in (Ghirardelli dark chocolate, caramel, etc.), and pick a topping or two, ranging from rainbow sprinkles to crushed up potato chips. “The Big O,” the truck’s most popular combination, consists of a cookies and cream bar coated in milk chocolate then rolled in Oreos. In 2011, the truck won the Best Mobile Ice Cream Bar Award from LA Weekly’s “Best of Los Angeles” awards.
HipPOPs Handcrafted Gelato Bars (Miami, Florida)
HipPOPs is taking South Florida by storm with its gelato-, sorbet-, and frozen yogurt-based pops. The truck focuses on using only locally sourced dairy and fruit from local farmers when in season. The bars are all-natural and gluten-free. Customers choose a base bar (either gelato or sorbet), a dip (or half-dip or drizzle), then “poppings” such as crushed pistachios, pretzels and Oreos. The gelato and sorbet flavors menu is innovative, with unexpected flavors like Mexican chocolate chipotle gelato and green apple wasabi sorbet. You can find them at Miami-based food truck rallies, and the truck can also be rented for events.
Coolhaus (New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas)
Talk about expanding a business: Coolhaus, founded in Los Angeles in 2009, now has trucks in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas and scoop shops in Pasadena, Culver City and Dallas (you can also find their products at plenty of supermarkets). It was one of the first trucks to let customers build their own ice cream sandwich with a variety of soft, freshly baked cookies (potato chip and butterscotch, red velvet, s’mores, peanut butter Captain Crunch) and innovative ice cream flavors (strawberry jalapeño gelato, Peking duck, Cuban cigar). Coolhaus revolutionized the ice cream sandwich as we know it, and if you haven’t sampled the goods yet, we suggest you seek them out.
Chunk-N-Chip Cookies (Orange County, California)
Yelp/ Jonathan Z.
This family-owned business has a store in downtown Santa Ana, with a sister dessert truck that can be rented for events. Their ice cream sandwiches are made with soft, oven-warmed cookies and small-batch ice cream. Try Blu-Valentine, snickerdoodle cookies with lavender blueberry ice cream; Butter My Velvet, red velvet cookies with peanut butter cup ice cream; or Bahama Mama, macadamia nut cookies with pineapple and white chocolate ice cream. Cookies and ice cream are also sold separately.
Mean Green Ice Cream Machine (Nashville, Tennessee)
Yelp/ Ryan O.
Tikiz Shaved Ice & Ice Cream (Broward County, Florida)
There are more than 20 of these funky trucks on the road, and each one of them can shave 400 cups of ice every hour. Guests are lured by the sound of steel drums playing through high-end speakers and water misters to cool off, and strobes and revolving neon lights are added to the mix at night. Guests receive cups of Hawaiian-style shaved ice or ice cream, and they can load them up with any of a wide variety of fruit syrups from a “surv-board” right on the side of the truck.
Ben & Jerry’s
You probably didn’t know this, but Ben & Jerry’s actually has a fleet of ice cream trucks that show up for promotions and catered events. Their Cowmobile (pictured) is a modified vintage mobile home that traverses the country handing out free scoops, and their other trucks include vans, a modified VW bus, and even a pickup truck with a giant “pint” in the flatbed. If you see one of these, don’t pass it by.
Sweet Cow Ice Cream MooMobile (Denver and Boulder, Colorado)
Yelp/ Sweet Cow
Sweet Cow Ice Cream is hand-crafting ice cream daily and only using compostable and recyclable products. The MooMobile, which started serving ice cream in July 2011, visits office parks but is also available for booking at parties and events. Available flavors include cookies and cream, strawberry and Dutch chocolate, as well as a daily featured ice cream. There are also six brick-and-mortar locations in the Denver-Boulder, Colorado, area.
Fifty Licks (Portland, Oregon)
Yelp/ Justin L.
Fifty Licks today has two Portland, Oregon, brick-and-mortar locations, but it got its start as a bright blue, retro-styled ice cream truck that can still be found parked on the corner of NW 24th Avenue and Thurman Street. Owner Chad Draizin spins his ice cream from scratch using local ingredients and cage-free egg yolks, and it’s available in creative flavors like Blood Orange Creamsicle, Thai Rice, Hood Strawberry (made with local berries), Butter SCOTCH Whisky (made with Famous Grouse and only for customers over 21) and Challah French Toast. A variety of vegan options are available as well. If it’s not already obvious, Fifty Licks isn’t just a funky truck; it’s up there with the best ice cream parlors on Earth.
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