The Politics of Ice Cream

Okay, this is not the most timely of posts.  However, I couldn’t resist, especially after seeing a sight not seen in over 30 years:  an ice cream truck!  As my family drove through Niskayuna, NY yesterday, my wife excitedly pointed out a previously banned ice cream truck making the rounds.

Niskayuna's got 'em.

For those of you not aware of the ice cream truck saga in New York’s Capital District, you can get a good overview by checking out this July 28th Times Union article.  Basically, the trucks have been banned for 34 years in Niskayuna due to a tragic accident in a nearby town.  With the urging of eight-year-old Alex Burgess, Niskayuna’s Town Board took up the topic.  After significant debate, they are conducting a month-long trial return of the ice cream truck.  Currently, they are about a third of the way through the trial run.

Wait, debate?  About ice cream trucks?  It shouldn’t be a total surprise, especially when much of the debate revolves around child safety.  I can understand it, and I think it’s important to explore that topic.  Other arguments against the ice cream trucks focused on noise and health. Noise?  I guess I can understand the annoyance.  Health?  I almost laughed at this quote from the TU article:

“It’s a diabetes truck,” said Gregory Nowell of Mohegan Road. “It taunts people struggling with weight control and diabetes. It’s bad public health policy,” he continued adding, “Why not have trucks distribute drugs and alcohol?”

But diabetes and obesity are no laughing matters.  In this case, I think the concern is overblown.  And I’ve got an answer to that concern.  Two letters:  N and O.  It becomes a word that I often use with my children.  It works!  For example:

  • No, there is no snack if you don’t finish your dinner.
  • No, you cannot watch that show on TV.
  • No, you can’t stay up past your bedtime.
  • No, I’m not going to let you jump off the top of the jungle gym.
  • No, you are not allowed to play with my power tools.

I am glad that Nisky’s town board voted to conduct the trial run. Hopefully it will lead to a permanent return of the frozen treats on wheels.  Still, it’s nice to see Ordinary Citizens taking an interest in their local government.  In a video report by YNN’s Steve Ference, the civic-minded Burgess described the process as an  “…economic learning process.” Certainly, it’s been an educational experience for her and many others.

Where's the truck with my popsicle?

Unfortunately, there still is a town in the Capital District that lacks these trucks with the treats:  mine.  Rotterdam. While I recognize that safety is a concern, I just cannot see how an ice cream truck is any more dangerous than other activities that bring kids out to play.  Personally, my wife and I have taught our kids to respect the dangers of the road.  An ice cream truck would not change that.

I think I’ve even identified the Rotterdam Town Code banning the trucks.  From § 150-19:

A hawker, peddler or solicitor or solicitor of funds shall:

… J.  Not sell, offer for sale or dispense any food, confectionary or ice cream directly from a vehicle while said vehicle is on a public street.

Let’s bring ’em back to Rotterdam.  Assuming the Niskayuna trial run goes well,  I would consider bringing it up before the Rotterdam Town Board. That is, unless a Rotterdam eight-year old does so first!  Either way, I hope to bring my four-year old along for a little education in the politics of ice cream.

Leave a comment


  1. LOVE THIS POST WADE. Excellently worded. If the grouchy old bat can’t stand the noise of laughing kids he can move to Dullsville.

    • Dullsville. LOL. I can think of a few other people to send there, too!

      • Joe

         /  June 22, 2011

        Just an update my son Michael approached the town of Rotterdam 6/22 with a petition to bring ice cream trucks back to rotterdam. The town supervisor seemed to embrace the idea. Hoping to get a resolution voted on by the next town meeting will keep you all posted

      • Very cool! (No pun intended.)

        Please keep us posted!

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