If you see a neon pink ice cream truck driving through your neighborhood with modern tunes, it’s not there by accident.
Each day, Scream Truck visits different towns in Union, Somerset, Essex and Morris counties, with an ever-growing set of routes.
If you signed up on the Scream Truck website, you’ll get a text message in the morning when the truck is in your neighborhood that afternoon or evening. Respond Y to let Scream Truck know you’d like it to stop by, then place your order and prepay for your ice cream so it’s ready when the truck arrives.
Founder Eric Murphy, who has a background in event technology, media and marketing, was inspired to start the company after hearing a traditional ice cream truck cruise near his Basking Ridge home.
“We have this rickety old ice cream truck driving around our neighborhood,” said Murphy, a self-proclaimed ice cream lover. “The product is really bad, it still looks scary and I just thought, ‘Why hasn’t anyone ever done this differently?’ “
This is exactly what his new company does.
“I thought, ‘There’s gotta be a better way to let people know you’re coming than a song playing on the truck,'” Murphy continued. “People are constantly texting the ice cream truck in our town, trying to get him to come to their house, so that’s where the idea of texting came in. I then thought, “How can we organize this better and make it more efficient for the truck so that we can serve everyone?” “
That works. When Murphy launched the concept in Westfield in June 2020 with a Facebook post, 500 households signed up within the first 24 hours. There are now 22,000 homes on the list, all thanks to word of mouth and without any official advertising.
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Scream Truck can’t visit yet every 22,000 households – about 30-40% of them are in towns that have not been added to the routes. But the listings allow Murphy to determine which spots should be added later.
Scream Truck regularly visits twenty cities, including Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford, New Providence, Berkeley Heights and Bridgewater. The truck usually visits each neighborhood once a week.
“What really blew me away, and still blew me away every day, is the organic spread of what we do,” Murphy said. “It’s so consistent. Every time we come to a city, all the cities around it start signing up and we start expanding to each of those cities.
The truck works all year round. Customers can also reserve the truck, even if it is not on a regular route. Events cost between $250 and $750.
Last year, Scream Truck held 2,000 events. For these, special messages to the guest of honor are displayed on two 4K LED monitors. Menu items are also named after them and curated music plays. Soon, event patrons will be able to create their own playlists.
The soft serve ice cream comes from a mix made by Upstate Farms in New York. Limited-edition seasonal sundaes are popular, such as the current NFT (which stands for Nutella, Hazelnuts, also known as Hazelnuts and Toasted Coconut). It also includes vanilla ice cream, a Nutella cookie, and whipped cream for $8.50.
“I can marry you and bake the cake”:Chef David Burke is an ordained minister Non-dairy and vegan ice creams are available, as well as fruit popsicles. All sauces are made by Ghiradelli and vermicelli is made by Fancy Sprinkles.
An ice cream truck that comes to your house on demand and can host socially distanced events might seem like a COVID-19 era invention, but Murphy came up with the idea in January 2020.
The pandemic certainly hasn’t hurt his efforts, however.
“COVID certainly helped in the beginning because people were so excited for something like this to come to them while they were stuck at home,” he said. “We did 50-75 events in January 2021. We would go to people’s houses and it would snow, and they would be so happy we were there.”
More information at shouttruck.com.
Jenna Intersimone has been a staff member of the USA Today Network New Jersey since 2014, having become a blogger-turned-journalist after founding her award-winning travel blog. To get unlimited access to her food, drink and fun stories, please subscribe or activate your digital account today. Contact: JIntersimone@Gannett.com or @JIntersimone.