The Ice Cream Truck Man Cometh

I dunno if this is a normal thing in more urban areas, but since I’ve moved into my condo I’ve noticed that ice cream trucks steadily drive through the area during warm weather, harping their wares with musical accompaniment. I suppose there’s a logic too it – there are a lot of condos and apartments packed into the area; probably a large number with small children. A concentrated mass of potential customers.

Initially they always seemed to play one song, “Turkey In The Straw”, though I admit I always think of the lyrics to “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” since…I don’t know the lyrics to “Turkey In The Straw.” Anyway, the song was always annoying, but at least it was “normal” in that ice cream trucks are known to play that song.

More recently, however, there seems to have been an influx of drivers seeking variety in their music and have begun to play other tunes – tunes that show their unfamiliarity with American music.

Sure, at first it just seemed like they’d expanded the variety of American folk music they were playing, “The Entertainer”, “On Top of Old Smokey”, etc.

But then things started to get interesting.

One day I heard the truck playing “Greensleeves,” this initially struck me as odd more because I was originally introduced to the melody as part of “What Child Is This?” a distinctly religious Christmas song. Now, realizing all of this I pushed aside the absurdity of playing Christmas music to sell ice cream, and instead thought it a bit odd to be playing an old English folk song in the Maryland suburbs. This isn’t as odd as playing it in say Bahrain, but it is still strange. Upon researching the matter, though, I found that this song is pretty common for Ice Cream Trucks… in the UK. Maybe the owner got the truck cheap on import and just used the stock music?

But wait, things get stranger! Yes, indeed they do. As I’ve already mentioned, I initially thought of Christmas music when I heard “Greensleeves” but then corrected myself, however, “Silent Night” is most definitely Christmas music. So is “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”. “O Christmas Tree”, “Joy to the World”, “Jingle Bells”, “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”, and had I taken the time to write them all down, the list would go on. The Ice Cream Trucks are now most certainly playing Christmas music. Religious and secular songs alike.

Oh sure, they still intersperse it with the American Folk tunes, and “Greensleeves”, but now they play Christmas music more then anything.

I can only think the motivation for it is that they think people will think of snow, and somehow associate snow with ice cream, and want to have ice cream. I don’t really see that works too well, but maybe. Another more likely possibility is that with the strong ethnically diverse community around DC, and the relatively low tier job that is driving an ice cream truck, these drivers might be unaware of what the songs they’re playing are about. Of course even this possibility has flaws, since someone clearly gave them that music to play. The real question is….why?

In a random internet search I saw that I’m not the only person who’s been noticing this:

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=uGAKSvkj-Hk

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=RyLAi07QUlk

Too bad I haven’t a clue where those were filmed.

1 comment

  1. Great work.

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