Are you hiring a van any time soon? Intending to sail that van down the Thames, flogging ice cream to passing river cruisers? Unlikely, but if you’ve ever fancied trying it out, you could be in luck.
The world’s first amphibious ice cream van (nope, no need to rush for an eye test) made its maiden voyage in the capital’s great river recently, to the various chuckles and head scratching of all those who saw her.
Built as a protest of sorts against the problems currently faced by the country’s mobile ice cream vendors, the HMS Flake 99 took to the waters as part of National Ice Cream week, chiming Rod Stewart (can anyone guess which song?) to attract its water based clientele. Perhaps missing the point that not many kids these days own a raft or speedboat, but still, you can’t fault the ambition.
A joint venture between a Brighton based comedian and Fredericks, the company that makes Cadburys ice cream, the crazy vehicle was designed to highlight the issues of council exclusion zones, high tax rates and increasing costs of ingredients. These stringent measures have come as a result of the government’s battle against childhood obesity, of which the ice cream van is not a natural ally. All very admirable of course, but there is something upsetting about seeing such a nostalgic industry slowly vanish before our eyes. As we get older and more cynical, it’s easy to forget the simple joy of playing outside on a balmy evening, hearing the opening bars of the “Cornetto song” and rushing home to grab a pound from Mum.
But perhaps, if you’ll forgive the bold statement, the kids are to blame. Typically more and more children are choosing to spend time on the internet or gaming, both very indoor activities, rather than play football down the park. After all, where’s the joy of munching on a 99 with strawberry sauce without the accompanying game of heads and volleys to go with it? No matter that the ice cream is invariably splattered all down your t-shirt by way of a wayward shot at goal, it’s all part of the fun.
So as the makers announce their plans to take the Flake across the continent to the canals of Venice, what next for the rest of our beloved mobile food industry? Burger vans smoking away under Tower Bridge? Are there legs in the notion of catching a canoe out to sea for your post night out kebab? Maybe water is just the tip of the iceberg. How about helicopter airlift cafes, dropping off at the country’s most remote outposts so everyone can enjoy a ploughman’s and a Scotch egg. Or hotdog vendors with their own train carriage, stopping at the perfect spot on the platform to dispense their wares to hungry commuters. Watch this space, people.
So, about that hire van. How about a genuine Whitby Morrison, kitted out with all the extras and modified to float on water and keep your Mr Whippies in perfect condition? What do you mean your wardrobes won’t fit in there?
Written by John from National Car & Van Rental