Monday, October 8, 2007

Is the Ice Cream Man Overpriced?

Picture this... You're sitting in the front yard, playing with the sidewalk chalk when your child hears that familiar noise waaayyy off in the distance. If you're a parent, you know exactly what sound it is. Since I don't want music to load on my blog page, I'll just spell it out for anyone who hasn't figured it out yet. The Ice Cream Truck. We sit quietly and listen - patiently trying to determine which direction the sound is coming from and whether it is getting closer.

For us, it's also one of those things that comes with living in the Midwest. When we lived in Los Angeles, we never saw an ice cream truck drive by. There were ice cream merchants pushing hand carts, but they usually didn't operate legally (but I'll not elaborate on that.) The only trucks we saw driving around were the "Roach Coaches" that parked at office buildings and events and sold sandwiches, salads and burritos. When I first moved there, I turned up my nose and couldn't believe how many people would flock to those things when they arrived daily during break. One day, I was talked into trying a polish sausage sandwich... I was sold. I have yet to find one that compares. Although their horn played a musical tune upon arrival each day, it can't compare to the lingering sounds that an ice cream truck sends echoing through the air.

Back to the Ice Cream Man - Once the kids conclude that he's close, they get even more excited. So what do we do? How should we handle this? We could tell the kids "No" but we say that so often anyway. It's nice to every once in a while just give in to impulse for the sheer benefit of making them smile. The cost of a typical popsicle is a few bucks, equivalent to an entire box on sale at the grocery store. On the other hand, I can buy each of our kids their choice from the ice cream truck for less than it costs to buy myself one iced mocha. Sure, we have identical popsicles in the freezer, but it's just not the same. They get so thrilled, jumping up and down and waving as the truck gets closer. DH and I conveniently ignore the cost of what we're buying because that anticipation until the ice cream truck actually turns on our street is priceless.