The New York Times

The New York Times 13 May 2020

Are Ice Cream Trucks Essential? In N.Y.C., They Are.


Godfrey Robinson has driven his ice cream truck along the same route for 26 years. Though his business is down, he's out there, he says, to provide a sense of normalcy.

Ice cream has been around for thousands of years, with the earliest versions enjoyed as summertime treats in Iran and China. It's still a huge hit today, which is why we've rounded up some of our favorite frigid tales From a clever proposal to cops pulling people over, ice cream plays a central role in each of these stories. As these stories prove, the dessert is just one of the things that unites us all.'s Stephanie Officer has more.
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Robot dogs — like "Spot" featured in this promotional video — are now patrolling the streets of Singapore.
The robot is controlled remotely and plays an audio recording reminding people to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
The robot is also designed to be used in other areas like telemedicine, electric power, construction sites and nuclear facilities.


… show captions ↓
[birds chirping]
[ice cream truck music]
“You remember when you was a kid, right?
When you heard that bell, that bell was like almost going
to Disney World because now you get to come outside
and you get to get your ice cream that you always wanted,
that rainbow or that vanilla cone with rainbow sprinkles
or that chocolate cone with cherry dip, you know —
whichever makes you happy.
[ice cream truck music]
I have an obligation.
I have to take my trucks to the street.
Because I believe the ice cream trucks
are essential service.
Someone asked me why am I working in the coronavirus?
Well, I mean, my customers actually wait for me.
What’s up, Champion?
Speaking Spanish: Chocolate or vanilla?
You know, they can choose anybody.
They can choose Mr. Softee, they could choose Carvel,
but they choose to come to the FunTime Frostee truck
because I’ve been serving them for the past 26 years.
You got it?
Have a great day.”
“Thank you.”
“It’s harder for us to social distance six feet
to give you an ice cream cone.”
“Thank you.”
“I try to tell the drivers make sure that the truck
is disinfected.
Make sure that you got wipes.
Make sure you got gloves.
Make sure you got two masks.
You know, make sure that the customer order back up.
Hey, how’s it going?
As this coronavirus happens, as it’s going on,
you know, the ice cream trucks have been kind of lonely.
We had to transition
to now wait for the customer.
I think they coming.
There’s no more stopping five minutes and going.
Now, we have to stop 10 minutes,
15 minutes on a block, and get ’em downstairs.”
“Well, when I hear the ice cream truck,
I just come running.”
“She acts like a child when she hears
the ice cream truck.”
“I’m glad I heard the ice cream
truck, ’cause it’s better than hearing
the sirens of the fire truck and ambulance.”
“A lot of people haven’t been buying ice cream because
of the coronavirus.
You know, they don’t want to touch nothing.
I know that, but this is a childhood thing,
you know?”
“The atmosphere now is crazy in New York City
because I’m a born New Yorker, and I’ve know this place
to be hustle and bustle.
But driving around the neighborhoods
now, it’s like …
… wow, is this really happening?
Is this happening?”
[ice cream truck music]
“And then when you hear the ice cream truck,
you say, ‘Oh, guess what?
Hey, Joey, go get your clothes.
Come on.
We’re gonna go get some ice cream.’”
“Now we feel normal again because now I can go outside,
because now I can go bring my kids.
We can have a little ice cream,
stay outside, catch a little fresh air
and then go back inside.
Have a great one.
We are essential.
We’re providing a service, making you
and your family happy during the pandemic,
without a pandemic, rain, sleet
or snow, I feel that I can bring that joy to people.”
[ice cream truck music]

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