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for The New York Times: Melting Profits Threaten the Ice Cream Man
josé a. alvarado jr.
Jul 26, 2022
Location: New York City
On a steamy evening at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, Jaime Cabal had a line of customers at his Mister Softee ice cream truck. He blended milkshakes, topped bowls of vanilla soft-serve with strawberries and dipped cones into cherry and blue-raspberry shell. One boy no sooner finished his treat than he begged his parents for more, pointing at the menu’s pops shaped like SpongeBob SquarePants, Sonic the Hedgehog and Tweety.

Crowds like these are becoming rarer for ice cream vendors across the country as high fuel prices feed inflation, leaving some owners of soft-serve trucks questioning their future in the business.

Owning an ice cream truck used to be a lucrative proposition, but for some, the expenses have become untenable: The diesel that powers the trucks has topped $7 a gallon, vanilla ice cream costs $13 a gallon and a 25-pound box of sprinkles now goes for about $60, double what it cost a year ago.Many vendors say the end of the ice-cream-truck era has been years in the making. Even the garages that house these trucks are evolving, renting parking spaces to other types of food vendors as the ranks of ice cream trucks dwindle.

Photographed for The New York Times, with words by Christina Morales.Melting Profits Threaten the Ice Cream Man
Inflation and its rising fuel prices have pushed some ice cream truck owners to the brink.


José A. Alvarado Jr. is a visual storyteller devoted to documenting cultural and social issues, as well as human interest stories in the US and Puerto Rico.
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