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What Is an Ice Cream Bicycle?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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An ice cream bicycle is a combination chest freezer and bicycle. Including such accoutrements as an umbrella and jingle bells, the ice cream bicycle utilizes a three-wheel design to create a stable platform for the operator to serve patrons. Three basic styles of freezer are available for the ice cream bicycle: household electric freezer, battery-operated and frozen ice box.

The bicycle is able to function equally well as an advertising device for a local ice cream parlor or as a standalone business. Many versions of the ice cream bicycle offer a large umbrella to shade both the operator and the customers while the ice cream is being sold and served. The operator can ring bells positioned on the handle bars of the ice cream bicycle, which function to alert prospective patrons of the location where the ice cream filled freezer is stationed. The tricycle design of the cycle allows the bike to ride smoothly across the boardwalk and on a sidewalk or parking area.

Offered as both a single and multi-speed bicycle, the rolling ice cream vending machine can be operated from both a permanently identified operating location or as a completely mobile ice cream operation. Many of the mobile ice cream bikes use dry ice to maintain the cold temperature of the freezer's contents. Most designs are able to maintain the proper conditions for as many as 12 hours once the correct measure of dry ice has been placed into the freezer unit. Frozen treats other than ice cream are commonly transported and sold from a common source. Flavored ice, frozen fruit juices and cold water are all typical items found in a freezer box of an ice cream bicycle.

Safety features, such as parking brakes, reflective tape and optional lighting systems, are available for the ice cream bicycle. Some of the bicycles provide a sanitation station for customers to wash their hands before and after enjoying a cold treat. Optional music systems can be placed onto the bicycle, allowing ice cream truck-type music to assist the jingle bells on the handlebars in calling customers to the bicycle as it travels through certain neighborhoods. The large, flat sides of the freezer component of the bicycle make it possible to paint elaborate and occasionally seasonal decorative murals on the sides. In some areas, special permits and licensing are required and these can also be displayed on the flat sides.

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Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Feb 10, 2015

Some really large sports arenas have ice cream bicycles that make runs around the promenade part of the stadium. It's easier for people to buy an ice cream bar there and then take it to their seat before it melts, rather than having to wait for the vendors in the stands. Also, they’re not blocking the stands with their concession boxes, which is good for people trying to get around.

They can also run extra ice cream to the concession stands themselves. I'd still rather buy it directly from the bike, though. It's a much shorter wait time, and the ice cream is straight out of the freezer.

By Pippinwhite — On Feb 09, 2015

When I was a very little girl, I remember seeing a guy with an ice cream bicycle in Birmingham, Alabama. You were more apt to see them in big cities. He had a bell that he would ring on his bike when he was making his rounds, and all the neighborhood kids would flock to him. He used to carry Good Humor bars, and you couldn't get them up where we lived, so we looked forward to seeing him when we visited my aunt.

I remember when the ice cream truck replaced the bicycle. It was kind of sad because that's a part of my childhood now gone.

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