Remember When: The Good Humor Man
By Phil Heywood, Briarwood resident and regular contributor to the monthly residents’ newsletter, News & Notes.
Briarwood’s annual Ice Cream Social held every August is always a tremendous success with a record number of residents in attendance in 2015. Anxious patrons were lined up 20 minutes before the doors officially opened. That reminded me of when I was a kid and we waited for the tinkle of the Good Humor truck as it turned the corner into our street. We always looked for the Good Humor man because that meant ice cream bars. We hoped that the bar we bought would be the one in every twelve that had the words “LUCKY STICK” printed on it which meant you were a winner and the next one was free – how great was that!
The Good Humor Co. started in Youngstown, Ohio in the early 20’s and rapidly spread throughout the country. It became a fixture in American culture during the depression, peaking in the mid 50’s. By then it had a fleet of over 2000 trucks selling ice cream from April to October. Its customers were mostly young folks under the age of 12. The drivers were paid by commission only and often worked 80 hours a week. In good times they could make over $100 dollars – not bad during the depression years! As the economy improved it was difficult to get people to work that hard plus the increased cost of gasoline and truck repairs slowly wiped out all profits. The fleet was sold in 1978 and the company was sold to Unilever, the world’s largest marketer of ice cream products in the USA.
It’s interesting to note that the state of Massachusetts is the largest consumer of ice cream in the United States year after year. Some of the well-known brands that started here are Friendly’s, Brigham’s, Baskin-Robbins and Howard Johnson’s. Many of our Briarwood field trips often take us to the surrounding ice cream shops in our local area. When we hear the saying “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream,” people are talking about us! It’s no wonder our annual ice cream social is such a well-attended event!