Are Ice Cream Vendors A Public Nuisance?

The city of Portsmouth, Va. certainly seems to think so. An ice cream vendor who has been fined repeatedly for playing music from his truck has challenged the city’s regulations, claiming that they are a violation of his constitutional rights.

Sanchez drives a truck for Norfolk-based Jumpn’ G’s Ice Cream. He was convicted three times this summer in Portsmouth General District Court for the illegal use of noise from an ice cream truck.

He appealed the last conviction, which stemmed from a stop by police Officer Jim Conrad on Sept. 5.

Conrad has been enforcing the city’s ice cream vendor regulations since a 10-year-old girl was hit by a car as she walked away from an illegally parked ice cream truck in May. The girl suffered cuts and bruises.

Sanchez also has been convicted in Portsmouth of driving without a license and not having proper equipment. He and his employer have paid conviction fees and costs of $496, court records show.

In other news, ice cream trucks are annoying as hell. Maybe they should just get some better music.

Ice cream truck driver challenges Portsmouth’s music ban [AP]
(Photo:The Vista Dome)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    Jesus. Ice cream never killed anyone, kids running into traffic kills, but never ice cream.

  2. morganlh85 says:

    Shouldn’t drivers be smart enough to assume that there are children around an ice cream truck? It’s not the ice cream truck’s fault that the girl got hit by a car.

    In fact the noise is probably a GOOD thing – it alerts drivers that the ice cream truck is in operation and selling, so they can be more alert that there may be children in the street.

  3. 8abhive says:

    Perhaps the peddlers should acquaint themselves with local noise & nuisance ordinances everyone else has to obey.

  4. demonradio says:

    Ice cream trucks are awesome. At least they make the pudgy little children run a bit before they get an overdose of sugar and cream.

  5. louisb3 says:

    Whenever I hear one in the summer, I fantasize about using a rocket launcher to blow it up. So yes, I consider them a nuisance.

  6. iluvhatemail says:

    what’s annoying is when they park in front of your house for 30 minutes playing the same short tune repeatedly. I would welcome tougher noise enforcement in LA but the only thing the worthless cops do out here is give out jaywalking tickets to homeless people.

  7. MercuryPDX says:

    I’d prefer the occasional ringing bells (Good Humor style) over the alternating crappy Midi Ringtone versions of “Musicbox Dancer” and “Pop Goes the Weasel”. You can’t unconsciously whistle jingling bells.

    What’s sadder… where I live the “Ice Cream Truck” is actually a crappy minivan with stickers on the sliding door.

  8. edrebber says:

    The ice cream truck must obey local noise ordinaces and parking regulations. Seems obvious.

  9. MercuryPDX says:

    Found an article telling the officers side of the story from earlier this year.

  10. LiC says:

    Ours uses a bell, it’s not annoying and the kiddies like it. I just wish he came by AFTER lunch, not right before dinner.

  11. StevieD says:

    When I was a teenager, my German Shepard just loved ice cream and knew the sound of the ice cream truck that circled our subdivision.

    About once a month I would leash the dog and take her to the corner to pickout her icy treat.

    Of course I got one as well.

    I sure do miss the ice cream truck.

  12. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Don’t forget “Turkey in the Straw”

    …better known to many of us by the alternative lyrics:
    Do your boobs hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie ’em in a knot? Can you tie ’em in a bow? Can you swing ’em o’er your shoulder like a soldier gone to war? Do your boobs…hang…low?

    Yes, I know it’s juvenile… ;-)

  13. Mr. Gunn says:

    In New Orleans, they have one that plays some inane music, but periodically stops to blast out at about double the volume the voice of a congested woman asking, “Hello?”.

    Yes, with a question mark.

  14. Nicholai says:


    Woh. That’s sleazy as hell.

  15. MercuryPDX says:

    @darkblast93: Yes it is. And just in case the outside wasn’t enough of a deterrent for you… once they slide the door open your ice cream comes out of one of a dozen or so stacked Igloo coolers strapped down to the floor where the seats would be.

  16. clarkbhm says:

    Yes, quite annoying. I had the misfortune of living in an apartment across the street from a playground. About five different trucks would ply the trade, approximately one every 15 minutes or so. Most of them had their bleeping music on the entire time they were parked there. Only of them used a bell.

    That’s what I don’t get… The kids know that the ice cream truck is there when it pulls up. Play the music for 15 seconds or so and you’ll get their attention. If they want ice cream, they’ll by it. If they don’t (or more likely they don’t have the money) they won’t. There’s no reason to sit with your music blasting for 10 minutes.

    The bell truck was nice. He’s the only one that we would ever buy from and he knew it. Reward the behavior you want!

  17. drjayphd says:

    @MercuryPDX: He wasn’t the one that went on Pimp My Ride?

  18. thepounder says:

    Wow. In Burlington, VT it’s just dandy to be nude in public… a bit south in Portsmouth, VA they hate Mr. Ice Cream Man.
    What the hell happened to our country where everyone thinks their opinions should matter more than anyone else’s? Whatever… move to Texas, Mr. Ice Cream Man. We’ll welcome you gladly.

    I know I know, noise ordinances and all… and that’s great. Maybe opt for the bell next time ’round.

  19. aikoto says:

    Is it wrong of me to not like ice cream trucks? I don’t give a rat’s butt about the music, it’s the fact that some stranger is luring kids out near his van and handing them candy. I think the days of the ice cream truck are sadly, over.

  20. North of 49 says:

    We’ve told our kids that if they don’t ask for that crap, we’ll buy them whatever they want from the store for the same price and they’ll get a week’s worth of treats.

    Mrs No49 went screaming out after one truck one day because a: it was the third truck that day, and b: two of the neighbour kids almost got run over because the guy backed up while this one woman’s 2 boys were swarming the truck. The truck drivers come in, pull a 3 point then park instead of just driving in and parking. That 3 point meant that kids swarm around it and can get hit if the driver isn’t extra careful.

    She also called every single one of the ice cream trucks that came in and gave them a good tongue lashing. We didn’t see any of them come in this last summer.

  21. hills says:

    I live in Norfolk – right by Portsmouth – and after moving here from a city where it is illegal for ice cream trucks to play music while moving/driving, it is a major nuisance to have these idiots (without licenses sometimes) cruising through my neighborhood blaring their god awful kiddie music. Barf.

  22. bonzombiekitty says:

    I think they’re a nuisance. When I used to live in a dorm, there would be an ice cream truck parked a couple blocks away until after midnight (to serve late night college kids). That song drove me crazy at night. It’s not so bad when they come by once, but they have a tendency to park in one place for hours on end around here.

    There also comes a point when the thing is just too loud. I swear I can hear an ice cream truck that’s four blocks away.

  23. bilge says:

    @MercuryPDX: If they played “Pop Goes the Weasel” by 3rd Bass, that’d be cool, though.

  24. pkrieger says:

    I have a problem with the judge in the article saying “I feel like I am fining Santa Claus.” Santa gives his treats for free. And I am sure he can probably speak the language.

  25. davere says:

    I don’t mind them if they come by once, maybe twice. But when it seems that the truck is just going around the street in circles and you get to hear that annoying music constantly and you have to keep turning the TV up, it gets irritating.

    To makes matters worse, the one in my area also plays “It’s a small world”

  26. gniterobot says:

    They should only makes songs in a pitch dogs and kids can hear. Don’t you lose the ability to hear certain tones as you age?

  27. STrRedWolf says:

    I agree, some ice cream trucks are annoying if they’re in the wrong situation at the wrong time. But if you’re in the ‘burbs, off the main drag on a hot Saturday, working in the yard a bit and you hear the icecream truck playing The Entertainer, you go with your $2 burning a hole in your pocket and you get that honkin’ Good Humor ice cream cone that’ll blow your diet away in one bite. And if the guy’s good (mine is), he’ll turn off the music while he’s serving.

  28. CaptainSemantics says:

    @Mr. Gunn: YES! Atlanta has that one, too! Although ours sounds more like a congested little girl. It’s odd, and when I hear it near the park, I get all confused. I think that Piedmont Park has a well and a girl is yelling “Hello?!” from the bottom. Then I realize it’s the ice cream truck/van and realize that I have way too active of an imagination.

  29. @bonzombiekitty: I can hear them through the ENTIRE neighborhood. If it was just on my block and maybe one block over, I’d ignore the annoyance. But when you can hear them for hours because they’re THAT LOUD, it’s just bad.

    I hear they’re so loud that they disrupt church services because people can’t hear the minister using a microphone when it drives past.

  30. Szin says:

    Only the Mister Softee theme is acceptable. Anything else is meaningless!

  31. Tigerman_McCool says:

    I’d say we have two issues here. Being the most concerning, is the issue with the ice cream trucks running over kids and the ice cream man driving without a license. Maybe Portsmouth should get that cleaned up, then tackle the music being a little too loud.

  32. brianala says:

    Awww, I always loved ice cream trucks. I wondered what happened to them since you hardly ever see them anymore. Now I know. All you old curmudgeons feel like you have to spoil it for the rest of us. Grrrrr!

  33. laddibugg says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS:

    Is it bad that I don’t know the real words to that song?

  34. Melsky says:

    When I lived in Toronto we had the truck with the HELLO? voice too. Weird.

    I got ice cream from the truck once, it was expensive and not very good so I never felt tempted again. It didn’t annoy me because it only came by once a day and didn’t play that song while they were parked but if they were coming by every half hour I’d be annoyed.

  35. In NYC, a quality-of-life ordinance was passed this year that prohibits certain types of noise, and now ice cream trucks can’t play their music when they’re parked in one spot. It’s made a huge improvement in my neighborhood, where there are several schools and at least 2 trucks that parked-and-played for over an hour each day.

    It’s not like the kids are bats. They can still see the truck and buy ice cream from it.

  36. @laddibugg: I don’t think it has any — I think it’s a fiddle tune w/o words.

  37. Buckler says:

    I really don’t mind the truck that roams the neighborhood playing music. I just find it damned annoying that they never make it to the second bar of “Turkey in the Straw”.

  38. Buran says:

    I’d say call the cops on them if they keep doing it and filing a nuisance complaint.

  39. Rachel says:

    @Chris Walters: I should look into that. I live in the LES and I have a stationary ice cream truck that just sits in front of my apt all day playing its stupid song. It’s getting colder out though, so hopefully it’ll go away on its own accord.

    I love the concept of an ice cream truck playing music to attract children, but when it sits all day in front of your residence, that’s not cool.

  40. brandymb says:

    Personally, they drive me nutz. There’s two of them that come thru my burb neighborhood too regularly playing Turkey in the Straw and Pop Weasel. And they stop and do not turn the noise off!. Once I was in my garage working on the GTO and it stopped in front of my driveway and proceeded giving me the best headache of the century. I went up to her and told her to shut it off, to shich she gave me a dirty look and did… but her PA system just commenced with a 60 cycle hum which was worse than the music!

  41. GothamGal says:

    Yes they are annoying as hell. In Los Angeles, they have push carts through the neighborhoods. I have never seen anyone buy one, and I do question its cleanliness.

  42. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:


    @Eyebrows McGee:

    (Shrugs) If there are words, I don’t know them. I only know the 4th Grade version. ;-)

  43. indiie says:

    I find them extremely annoying when the three trucks that infest our neighborhood play “Jingle Bells” all summer.

  44. Seacub says:

    One of my two neighborhood ice cream trucks plays Turkey in the Straw, but it’s got a hip-hop beat. It still sounds like a MIDI from 1996, but it’s hip-hop.

  45. That70sHeidi says:

    Turkey in the Straw still haunts me to this day. I could hear it blocks and blocks away (in Los Angeles) and it’d linger for hours. I only saw the truck ITSELF once… I was too stunned to assault it, unfortunately. :(

  46. Anitra says:

    I used to drive an ice-cream truck, with a bell (I hate the musical ones, too), in a fairly rural area. On my first day, the boss sat me down, had me watch a safety video and imparted the following words of wisdom:

    1) Your #1 job is to make sure kids around your truck are safe. Don’t worry about selling the ice cream; the ice cream sells itself.

    2) You can only slow down and ring your bell if the speed limit is less than 40mph; don’t ring your bell on a busy street if you won’t be able to pull over and let cars past.

    3) NEVER back up the truck unless it can’t be avoided. (My truck was a small pickup with a huge box freezer in the bed. My rearview mirrors were nearly useless.)

    Anyone who drives an ice-cream truck but doesn’t follow these rules is a dipshit. You want your customers to be safe, idiot! Unsafe customers don’t come back!

  47. FLConsumer says:

    I don’t have a problem with the trucks, but the music part HAS to go. 1) People live inside air conditioned homes now and can’t hear the truck. 2) It’s usually the same song over & over again, poorly played, so anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors is forced to suffer. 3) I agree with those who said the trucks should be forced to follow the same guidelines as regular vehicles. Most cities have specific noise laws regarding car stereos, which need to be enforced more often.

  48. FLConsumer says:

    For those talking about Turkey in the Straw, Fruit of the Loom did a great rendition of it here:

  49. allstarecho says:

    The way I see it, if I can get a ticket for having my radio too loud in my car, so can the ice cream truck.

  50. fejjnagaf says:

    total nuisance.
    I was on a phone interview once when the local drunk ice cream truck operator decided to park his truck in front of my second floor windows with music at full blast.
    the interviewer asked me if I was outside or at a park. I had to apologize and close my windows so she could hear me speaking.
    The music is ALWAYS too loud.

  51. neithernor says:

    Back in my day, the sibilant tones of the ice cream truck were the only thing that sustained me as I walked 10 miles in the snow to school (uphill both ways). Why don’t noise-unfriendly folks go after those people who insist on listening to their iPods or video games at top volume on public transit? That offends me much more (NJ Transit, I’m looking at you).