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Ice Cream Van

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Ice Cream Van

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Ice Cream Van

Although ice cream was invented in China in 200BC, it didn’t become something the average Englishman could enjoy until the 19th century. In those days ice cream vans were horse-drawn carts, and there were definitely no waffle cones! The motorised vans appeared in the 1950s, publicising their arrival with their famous “music”. Early chimes were created by amplifying a sort of hand-turned Swiss music box and played through speakers powered by the vehicle’s battery. Nowadays most vans used computerised chimes – but do they sound any better? If you are thinking of becoming one of Britain’s 5,000 “mobilers”, you can expect to pay up to £30,000 for your van and you will have to choose if you are going to sell hard (scoops) or soft (whipped) ice cream and how to customise the fibreglass body which will be fitted onto the “host vehicle” (usually a Ford or Mercedes). Ice cream vans are a much loved asset to any neighbourhood and you are guaranteed a welcome wherever you go – but remember, only play your chimes between noon and 7pm – any other time they’re illegal!


Your comments

There is nothing more unmistakable than the sound of mr softee whining out greensleeves as he pootles along followed by 20 screaming kids. Mind that child!


Not only the chimes, but the smell of the earlier soft ice cream vans, which I believe was created by the additional 'Ford' motor to generate the 'Sweda' soft ice cream machine. An outstanding childhood memory. We could smell the van in the next street, even if my friends and me had not heard the Mr Softee jingle.

I have been looking for help and advise, as I am trying to buy another secondhand ice cream van. Lots of information on the web, but it is spread accoss a number websites. So I thought I would create a website with my information http://www.freewebs.com/icecreamvan Worth a look just for the handy links
Ian Thomas

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My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry