Ice Dreams trucks begin routes (video)
June 27, 2013 at 1:27 a.m.
Updated June 28, 2013 at 1:28 a.m.
You can never have enough ice cream
About 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts were produced in the U.S. in 2011.
The U.S. ice cream industry generated total revenues of $10 billion in 2010, with take-home ice cream sales representing the largest section of the market, generating revenues of $6.8 billion, or 67.7 percent of the market's overall value.
The majority of U.S. ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturers have been in business for more than 50 years, and many are still family-owned businesses.
SOURCES: USDA, National Agriculture Statistics Service; MarketLine, an Informa business; IDFA ice cream company survey, 2012
A familiar, distant sound echoed into Michelle Robinson's home - a sound that perked up her ears Tuesday evening.
As the sound came closer, the 34-year-old Victoria woman realized it was music heading down Loma Vista Avenue - not just any music.
It was the classic "The Little Brown Jug." It was ice cream truck music.
Ice Dreams, a new ice cream truck business that started in May, has not only been gaining popularity in some Victoria neighborhoods but is also reviving something many in the area have not seen as much as they did when they were growing up.
"It brings back memories of when we were young kids," said Robinson, who lives in the same house where she grew up.
On Tuesday, her two children darted out of the house and across the street, just like she used to.
"It makes a connection with the kid," she said. "They're sharing things we used to share."
The business, which is one of three ice cream truck businesses in Victoria, was started by Victoria resident Michael Velasquez, who works full time at Port Lavaca Preloved, a car dealership. He learned about the business option from a friend who knew Velasquez, 32, had an entrepreneurial spirit and was looking for a side business.
The idea seemed easy and necessary because of the summer heat. So Velasquez, along with his girlfriend Laura Tucker, 34, decided to purchase two ice cream trucks from a former truck operator in Houston.
They purchased their first ice cream orders, not fully knowing what to expect, and Tucker went out to sell.
The response, she said, was high.
"It's just such a feel-good job to make their day a little sweeter," Tucker said.
Over the past two months, Velasquez and Tucker have hired four employees to help with their seven-day-a-week route.
Velasquez takes care of the finances while keeping his full-time job at the dealership. Tucker manages herself and the four employees.
Right now, the routes are hit and miss, Tucker said. The goal so far is to have the early afternoon and later afternoon routes hit different neighborhoods on different days with as much consistency as possible.
Ice Dreams has an agreement to sell Blue Bunny for the region, which is something Tucker also did not expect.
Velasquez was looking to put some smiles on faces and make some extra income.
"It was kind of a jump-off-the-cliff deal," he said. "I never thought it would be this big so fast, but we're having fun doing it."
The truck has more than 50 types of ice cream, from the traditional Bombstik to the cartoon-faced ice cream with gum eyeballs.
The most popular seems to be a Popsicle-type treat that resembles Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants.
But their clienteles' tastes differ.
Carrina Cox, 24, who lives off Laurent Street, had seen the truck pass several times. She and her family make it a point to be ready for its arrival.
Like Robinson, the memory of growing up with an ice cream truck is vivid for Cox.
"It's like when I was a kid," she said. "I'm really glad they're here and doing this, especially during the summer for my kids."
Alexis Gaona, 10, got her PowerPuff Girls ice cream and was eager to tear it open and grab a taste.
"I really like it," she said, admiring the ice cream.
Velasquez said they buy in bulk at least once a week and have three 24-cubic feet freezers to store all the ice cream.
As stressful and laborious as it is, Tucker said the experience is well worth it.
"I wake up sometimes screaming, 'We need more ice cream,'" she said laughing. "Who knew you could have nightmares about ice cream?"