Lifestyle

We All Scream for the Ice Cream Man's Head

The idea that ice cream men cruise around looking for victims is simply an urban myth.

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Paul DiMarco has been selling ice cream in Poughkeepsie, New York, for two decades. He owns a fleet of trucks. When one mom confided to him, "You gotta be careful because there's a lot of pedophiles in this world," he recalls replying, "That attitude falls into the same category as 'All black people that drive Cadillacs are pimps,' and 'All clowns kill little kids.'"

Of course, some real-life ice cream men do have soft-serve for brains. There were the guys in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, who sold weed from their truck. Elsewhere in New York, an ice cream guy named Kenneth Leiton was busted in 2009 for selling pills and coke; cops caught him when he was dumb enough to park the truck in front of his dealer's house. In Philadelphia in 2011, an ice cream truck was spotted weaving through the streets. Its operator was found guilty of driving drunk, and in his freezer authorities found not only ice cream novelties but a couple of bottles of his frozen pee. (In his defense, I've read it's hard to find a bathroom while on the job.)

And yes, even the classic nightmare scenario has happened: An ice cream man in upstate New York was found guilty of violating a 9-year-old in his truck in 2004. The incident inspired a state law making it a misdemeanor for a sex offender to operate an ice cream truck. The New York State Senate is now considering bumping that up to a Class D felony.

But hard cases make bad law, and this is no exception. There are more than 700 Mister Softee trucks alone in 15 states, and that's not counting all the other brands. A predator or two, a gaggle of drug dealers, and a horror movie—1995's The Ice Cream Man didn't do the industry any favors—do not an entire profession dishonor.

Fear of ice cream peddlers points to a larger problem few parents want to admit to: our collective mistrust of any man who chooses to work with kids. From male day care employees to school bus drivers to Cub Scout leaders, they're all potential predators until proven otherwise.

And they can't prove otherwise. How can you prove a negative?

If we insist on background checking all ice cream salesmen, do we also have to background check all pet shop employees? All pediatric cardiologists? Is any male who interacts with a child automatically suspect? And how about women? They abuse kids, too.

Once you start insisting on government vetting, you're trusting a system that has made "sex offenders" out of teenagers in love, streakers, and public urinators (even the ones who don't freeze their pee). You're also buying into the mistaken belief that no one convicted of a sex crime can ever be rehabilitated—even though the actual recidivism rate is only around 5 percent. Most importantly, you're looking in exactly the wrong direction.

"It's so much more comfortable to fear the unknown, the stranger," says Sandy Rozek, spokeswoman for the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws. "But that doesn't fit the facts. Depending on the age of the child, between 90 and 99 percent of those who sexually molest children are the friend, the acquaintance, the family member." Not the ice cream guy.

DiMarco, the fleet owner, does run background checks on his operators, as state law requires. But the idea that ice cream men cruise around looking for victims is simply an urban myth. As he told that worried mom, "Let's get one thing straight. As far as these little kids go, there's only one thing I want and that's their money."

And in the end, that may be the real reason parents are so scared: Somewhere in this bubble-wrapped, baby-proofed world, one group of adults is treating kids as human beings, not snowflakes.

How chilling.

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  1. When I was a kid, David Lee Roth, who had recently quit Van Halen, had a song about exactly this subject.

    “I’m the ice cream man. Stop me when I’m passing by /
    I’ve got 17 flavours guaranteed to satisfy.”

    1. Damn your nimble fingers.

    2. He also sang about his love for an underage Brooke Shields

      1. He also apparently wanted to bang a teacher. I guess he’s not that picky.

        1. Did you see that teacher?!

  2. Ice cream, the real root of all evil!

  3. What kind of business owner talks to his customers like that? I call BS that he actually said this to a mom buying ice cream for her kid:

    “That attitude falls into the same category as ‘All black people that drive Cadillacs are pimps,’ and ‘All clowns kill little kids.'”

    “Let’s get one thing straight. As far as these little kids go, there’s only one thing I want and that’s their money.”

    Nothing says “I want your business” like telling your customer “You’re a bigot” or “The only thing your kid is good for is his money”

    1. If she had said “You’d better be careful about hiring niggers. They’ll rob you blind.” would he have been out of line to call her out as a bigot?

      1. … but that’s nothing at all like what she said.

        1. I see. So it isn’t true bigotry unless it’s against a government sanctioned protected class. Gotcha.

          1. … but that’s nothing at all like what I said.

            1. When one mom confided to him, “You gotta be careful because there’s a lot of pedophiles in this world,”

              I think saying something like that to someone who’s in the process of trying to sell your little brat some ice cream could certainly come off as a little accusatory:

              “I have to be careful because for all I know you might be a sick perv. I’ve got my eye on you, sicko!”

              I could understand the guy getting a little touchy over what he most likely perceived as a thinly veiled accusation that he may be pedo out trolling for his next victims. I know I would be.

    2. once in a while customers need to be told their jerks

      1. We’ve told kids from time immemorial to be wary of strangers. This is not something that’s happened just recently.

        The mom is expressing concern for the safety of her kid, and exercising caution. That’s a long way from accusing all ice cream truck drivers from being pedos. Is it an irrational fear? Maybe, but it’s not bigoted.

        The guy screens his drivers. WHY?? Isn’t that the same as assuming he might be a pedophile? By the logic being used here, he’s a bigot as well. He could have just told the lady not to worry because he dies his own background checks.

        Nope. Full SJW. That’s the way to go.

        1. The guy screens his drivers. WHY??

          An ice cream man in upstate New York was found guilty of violating a 9-year-old in his truck in 2004. The incident inspired a state law making it a misdemeanor for a sex offender to operate an ice cream truck. The New York State Senate is now considering bumping that up to a Class D felony.

          Because an isolated incident caused the NY state government to pass a law requiring him to do so. I don’t know the specifics of the law in question, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that an owner of an ice truck business who failed to screen his drivers would also be subject to at least a hefty fine.

          1. So you’re claiming that, if state law didn’t require it, he wouldn’t screen his drivers?

    3. Nothing says “I want your business” like telling your customer “You’re a bigot”

      You’re the only one throwing around the work ‘bigot’.

      What kind of business owner talks to his customers like that?

      I used to work in a service profession as a sole proprietor. I had informed more than one customer that I loved their money but they weren’t worth the aggravation. It’s nice to be in a position to tell an existing or potential customer that you don’t want their business.

      Besides, what do you think the ice cream man wants from these kids besides their money? Why would a customer think that it was anything else or be offended by making it explicitly clear? If you are offended by this statement from an ice cream man, I think you expect too much from him. He’s not your psychiatrist.

      1. Good for you. I had so many shitty jobs when I was young where we had to suck up to assholes or else. Then I got a slightly better job where the manager wasn’t afraid to come out from behind the desk with a baseball bat.

      2. BOLLOCKS. It’s an innocuous statement said by a mom that’s concerned for her kids. It was a statement of trust in him, not an accusation.

        Do you hire babysitters that are strangers?

        I’m also a sole proprietor (retail). If I insulted every customer that said something I thought was stupid, I’d by out of business. It’s an absolutely ridiculous reason.

        The guy has paper-thin skin.

    4. What kind of business owner talks to his customers like that?

      Plenty of them. Were he a shop owner, I would’ve/could’ve understood him turning the hose on her. I’ve worked plenty of bulk delivery jobs where we picked the most convenient spot for us and least convenient spot for the customer because they were assholes. And I mean literally tons of product sitting on the rural equivalent of an abandoned lot because the customer “didn’t like” any of the delivery guys. The last thing you need as a merchant is a bystander or loitering customer hanging around saying, “You wouldn’t normally associate this business and felonies falsely but…”

      1. “Were he a shop owner, I would’ve/could’ve understood him turning the hose on her.”

        For expressing concern for the safety of her kid? She was essentially saying she trusted him? How is that an insult?

        That’s fucking mental, lol

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever met an ice cream man that actually like kids. They would just take their money, give them the ice cream and go showing disdain the whole time.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever met an ice cream man that actually like kids.

      “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

    2. Yeah – ice cream pretty much sells itself to kids. I don’t think the kids even really see the guy taking their money, let alone give a shit whether or not he’s nice.

    3. You must have had a shitty childhood. Our ice cream dude was always friendly and punctual. He eventually bought a few more ice cream trucks and leased them, semi-retired, and made a pretty decent living according to my dad.

  5. “It’s so much more comfortable to fear the unknown, the stranger,” says Sandy Rozek

    I wonder why that is…

  6. The ice cream man in my neighborhood is way too high all the time to molest anyone. Sometimes he’ll park where there aren’t any kids around and burn one down and i’m like, THE WHOLE BLOCK CAN SMELL WHAT YOU’RE DOING OVER THERE, BIG WORM.

  7. I have a nice ice cream man here, I have a severe peanut allergy and every time I ask him to make sure there are no peanuts in the ice cream he always gives me a wink and a nod and a big ol’ grin and assures me the only nuts in the ice cream are not the kind that cause allergies. Such a nice man. For some strange reason some people think he’s creepy, I don’t know why.

    1. the only nuts in the ice cream are not the kind that cause allergies.

      But they’re *salty* nuts, right? RIGHT?!

    2. Does he also offer a Fromunda Cheese flavored variety? Just morbidly curious.

    3. Those dippin’ dots are gluten free I can assure you, but there is lots of healthy protein in them.

  8. “All clowns kill little kids” is indeed a ridiculous belief. Some clowns also kill older kids, and others even kill adults.

    1. Pennywise wants a word with you.

    2. Clowns generally are opportunistic killers, it’s just that kids are around more often. It’s nothing personal.

  9. The whole thrill of flagging down an ice cream truck was in whether our parents would get to score weed or whether we’d be kidnapped and raped. You’re telling me there are ice cream trucks that just, like, sell ice cream?

    1. If you got molested as a kid while your parents were high, it would go a long way toward explaining your warped worldview. Not justifying it, but at least explaining it.

  10. Mister Softee

    Not the most innocent sounding name. Although I suppose it beats Hardee’s…

    1. Meant to be reassuring?

  11. And of course, it has nothing at all to do with most ice cream vendors being in business for themselves. If all trucks were owned by massive corporations donating millions to politicians, there would be no issue here at all.
    Why doesn’t the law require background checks for ALL people selling ice cream (at least to children)? Why just independent truck drivers? Why?
    It’s no coincidence that sex crimes soar when ice cream sales go up. No coincidence at all. (unless you adjust for the temperature)

    1. If all trucks were owned by massive corporations donating millions to politicians, there would be no issue here at all.

      What do you mean donating?

  12. There’s some guy trolling around my neighborhood with a hideous hatchback car and a stand up freezer jutting out of the back with the hatch banging up and down on it, he plays terrible midi tunes out of his shitty blown out car speakers too. I know he’s a chomo because he doesn’t play the wholesome sounds I remember from my childhood.

  13. I was picking up my cousin from his middle school yesterday, and their security nazi gave me the stink eye. “Why are you here…”…. “to pick up my cousin…” …..”what’s his name?” …….. “oh, ok”

    Was tempted to say, how about next time I show up in a fucking windowless van with “free cookies” written on the side of it. Seriously, you’re an idiot because a random stranger kidnapping a middle school aged student after school when everyone is picking up their kids just doesn’t fucking happen, and you are an idiot to think it might even happen.

    I’m off to go pick him up again, maybe I’ll see the nazi again

  14. If you think the ice cream man isn’t looking for victims you haven’t checked out their prices lately!

  15. ‘All black people that drive Cadillacs are pimps,’ and ‘All clowns kill little kids.'”

    Ok. Obviously the first is a ridiculous over-generalization, but the second is the God’s-honest truth!

    Also, not all ice-cream men are pedophiles. Some are serial killers and their freezers are stuffed full of body parts underneath a thin layer of ice cream bars and popsicles.

  16. I came from a poor family where I was left alone all day and told not to answer the door or go outside. I got bored. I was 4 and full of energy. So I walked around my small farming town picking up soda bottles, putting them in my “American Flyer” red wagon, and taking them to the creamery. First I bought ice cream. If I still had money left I bought a soda.

    I was home before my parents finished work. I got away with it for months until a relative saw me and snitched.

    1. Good for you. But seriously, you were 4? Perhaps the story is exaggerated just a bit. But I’m still curious what happened next.

  17. I’m the ice cream man honey, I’ll be good to you.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHGG3vj5kcQ

  18. Did you ever see the My-T Tas-T Ice Cream Truck from Maximum Overdrive actually kill anyone?

  19. Whenever humans are involved, crimes will be committed. I bet ratio wise the ice cream men are less crime prone than the general populace who holds non-logic based opinions on them. To modern day helicopter parents and SJW public every guy is a pedobear waiting to happen.

  20. As far as background checking, is there a employer still around that doesn’t background check their workers? I mean I’m a programmer and I have been through a ton of background checks. I don’t see what the big deal on checking ice cream man’s background is. It’s a free market, they can find an employer who doesn’t do that, especially ones working with kids.

    1. Your uncle Aiden is a liar. He stole the truck from an ice cream man.

  21. Never mind the ice cream man. Bring me the disco king.

  22. I remember a great Dilbert where Dogbert was being his consultant character.
    He was teaching “the customer is always right”

    Followed by “We must punish him for this arrogance”.

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