By M. Scott Morris
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo.
The Great Recession gave Lori Green a chance to rethink things.
“I used to be in mortgages,” she said. “When mortgages ended, I went home and said, ‘What can I do with the kids in the summer?'”
She came up with a plan for the future that grew out of her past.
“I had a neighbor who did it. He put three boys through college with an ice cream truck,” said Green, a 38-year-old Tupelo resident. “They worked on it after school, and I thought it was neat.”
She researched her idea and went online to find an ice cream truck that was road-ready, but the ones she found were in far-off places, and she didn’t want to haul or drive them to Tupelo.
About a year ago, Green found her truck at a dealership in Houston, then had a sliding window installed and signs painted on each side.
“I thought about Mom’s Ice Cream, and my husband said, ‘What about Cookie Monster?'” she said.
“I wanted it to be Cookie Momster Ice Cream,” said Green’s 9-year-old daughter, Addie.
“She did. I said, ‘No way,'” Green said.
The pair hit the road at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, which gives Addie time to get home from school and do her homework.
Green’s son, 12-year-old Clay, also helps.
“But he’s busy with baseball,” Green said, “and he has other things on his mind.”
“Like Xbox,” Addie said.
The kids at school think Addie is living the dream, but an ice cream truck is a business.
“Mom is tough on you, isn’t she?” Green said.
“My friends think I have ice cream all the time, but I have to work for it or I have to buy it,” Addie said. “I’m making money here and giving it back to her.”
“But you’re learning, right?” Green said.
Her daughter nodded.
The two pride themselves on driving an old-fashioned ice cream truck, and people can tell it’s old-fashioned because it’s black and white, the way such trucks were when Green was a child.
“The truck’s not colorful but the food is,” Addie said.
Green also purchased a speaker system that attaches to the truck and plays a tune that she couldn’t name.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It’s ice cream truck music.”
It’s a bit early in the season to draw large crowds, and the rain has a dampening effect, but the pair know far busier days are ahead.
“July and August, we’re going to be booking it,” Green said.
She said the cookies and cream cone is a big seller, and kids love the cotton candy bar.
“It’s not just the kids that we get,” Green said. “We sell to everybody. When we first started, we’d have grownups come out and say, ‘I haven’t seen an ice cream truck in years.'”
Drivers sometimes tail the truck until Green makes a stop. Some adults have been known to chase after the ice cream entrepreneurs on four-wheelers.
But boys and girls are the undisputed target audience, so Green aims for kid-friendly neighborhoods. Her route takes about a week to complete, but the schedule’s flexible.
“If I have a line stretching out waiting for ice cream, I’m not going anywhere,” she said.
Addie’s already making plans to take over the business when she grows up, and she’s imagined someday putting her own children to work on the truck.
If that’s what her future holds, Addie might develop a better appreciation for her mom’s rules when it comes to eating into profits and, potentially, putting on pounds.
Temptation, thy name is ice cream.
“I try not to eat it but it’s pretty hard,” Green said. “I’ll get a little something now and then.”