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The Ice Cream Truck: Push-Up Pops

As the tinkling summer music of the ice cream truck plays, I scan the colorful menu. I jingle the quarters in my pocket and silently curse the heavens that I can only choose a single treat. What I wouldn’t give to scurry away with two, maybe even three selections from the enticing images plastered all over the truck. Although like every kid I had my favorites, I also loved to experiment and try the new and wonderful varieties available. In this series, I’ll pick one item from the ice cream truck to discuss in every article. What’ll it be today?

Photo by Alexey Taktarov on Unsplash

When summer rolls around and the days get unbearably hot, there were precious few things that would keep me cool. We could get an adult to open a fire hydrant, which is a time-honored tradition in Brooklyn, though highly illegal. Instead we’d more likely head to the local park and jump through the mounted sprinklers, leap-frogging over it like little pre-teen daredevils. Loitering in the air-conditioned video rental store or playing arcades at the corner store was a surefire way to stay cool too. But arguably, the best—and tastiest—way to loosen the sun’s fiery grip was buying a treat from the ice cream man.

Today, I’m going with an old favorite that I’d choose at least once out of every five times, which I suppose places it securely in my top five ice cream truck favorites of all time: the push-up pop. This ice cream was part treat and part toy, making it not only delicious but also fun. It may sound like an exaggeration to call this thing a toy, but the interaction of slowly pushing the bottom of the ice cream up through the tube made this more than just ice cream to me. Somehow this simple act increased my enjoyment of the orange sherbet entrapped within.

Sometime around 1990 the Nestle corporation branded their push-up pops, creating the Flintstones Push-Ups.[1] Since I was already a “Flintstone Kid” (“Ten Million Strong and Groooowing…”), I jumped on the bandwagon as soon as these were released, happily trading in my orange sherbet flavor for the exact same yet somehow infinitely better Yabba Dabba Do Orange. What about the other flavors, you ask? Yeah, they don’t exist for me. It was always orange. I mean, grape? Lime? Even later when they added a couple other options I stuck with the orange, thank you very much.

What was it with all the Flintstones stuff in the ‘80s and ‘90s? For a cartoon that aired from 1960-1966, its longevity is incredible. According to Wikipedia, “The continuing popularity of The Flintstones rests heavily on its juxtaposition of modern everyday concerns in the Stone Age setting.”[2] Sure, I guess I can buy that. Even though the cartoon was no longer being made, I clearly remember watching it all the time on television, begging my parents for Fruity Pebbles cereal, and eating mountains of push-up pops.

Although they are no longer branded and sold as Flintstones Push-Ups, Nestle does still make and sell the product, but for my money, “Outrageous Orange” is never going to taste as good as it did when Fred was selling it.

Tune in next time for another selection from the ice cream truck.


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