BBC Home
Explore the BBC



Last Updated: Thursday August 20 2009 13:43 GMT

Ricky looks at vanishing ice-cream vans

Ricky on the hunt for ice-cream vans

There used to be loads of ice-cream vans on our streets every summer.

So why are their numbers dropping? Ricky investigates.

I have loads of memories of ice-cream vans pulling up right outside my house, especially during the summer.

What's top of the ice-cream charts?

I used to drop everything I was doing, run into my house and beg Mum and Dad for some loose change so I could buy myself a lolly (my favourite was always a Zap!).

When I moved out of London I used to see the odd ice-cream van now and again, but for the last five years I haven't seen or heard any in my street.

And that is happening right across the UK. For many people that familiar theme tune is becoming a thing of the past.


Over 40 years ago there used to over 20,000 vans and now there are just 5,000. The Ice Cream Alliance are campaigning to get more people to support their local vans instead of buying ice cream from supermarkets.

Ice-cream vans are very popular
Ice-cream vans are very popular

I spent the day with Catherine, an ice-cream lady who runs six vans in Blackburn. I joined her on one of the many ice cream rounds she does every day, and even got to scoop a few chocolate nut tubs and help to make a 99.

It was so interesting to see the inside of an ice-cream van, all the different fridges and I even got to press the button which makes the jingle play!

Where does ice-cream music come from?

Catherine puts the fall in the number of ice-cream vans down to the high cost of running them. They cost £40,000, and the price of ingredients has also risen drastically over the past couple of years.

There are lots of rules making life for ice-cream vendors pretty tough.

Tough rules

They're not allowed to play that famous jingle before noon and after 7pm. Lots of councils have banned them from stopping outside schools and there's big competition from supermarkets who also sell ice cream.

Kids eating ice cream
These kids love ice cream

Throughout my time with Catherine in her van I spoke to kids. Most of them told me how excited they get when they hear the van coming and they prefer to get their ice cream from Catherine.

But the reality is people find it easier and more convenient to buy their lollies from supermarkets which have a massive variety, cheap offers and are available around the clock.

The ice-cream sellers want more support from the public otherwise ice-cream vans could become a thing of the past."