(ABC News: Clare Sibthorpe) By Clare Sibthorpe
January 21, 2018 08:40:01
Sarah Wicken endures the heat because she likes making children smile.
(ABC News: Clare Sibthorpe)
Ms Wicken — a primary school teacher — and her husband Carl, have been delivering ice-cream to suburban Canberra almost every summer day for the past 12 years.”My husband grew up in England and there was an ice-cream truck on every corner, but when he moved to Australia he was amazed there were so few around,” she said. And while it might be less common to spot a colourful van or little tuktuk loudly travelling city streets, they are still popular at public events and on the coast.Ms Wicken does not intend to stop making children smile anytime soon, and encourages others to give the job a try.”I definitely hope these vans will be around forever,” she said.”I hope my grandchildren will have them — I’ll have to train mine up.” (ABC News: Clare Sibthorpe)
Asked why she believed more ice-cream van drivers were throwing in the gloves and cups, she said it was because it was becoming an increasingly hard business to profit from.”You definitely don’t go through enough stock to last the year, it’s quite expensive to run,” Ms Wicken said.”I also think people can’t cope with the long days and going to every street… you make a lot more at events.”In an increasingly cashless society, it also doesn’t help that fewer people have spare change lying around and she doesn’t accept eftpos due to sporadic reception. Sometimes I have to chuck ice down my back to help keep cool.”History traces back to Mr WhippyThe first and trend-setting ice-cream truck company in Australia was Mr Whippy, which came from the United Kingdom in 1962.It started in the streets of Sydney but was quickly popular in most other cities. In the 1970s the company sold the last of its vans. Photo:
Sarah and Carl say the ice-cream truck business isn’t easy — but it’s worth it. “He said, ‘I’m going to get an ice-cream truck’ — and I didn’t believe him, but off he went.”The couple are on a mission to keep alive a tradition they worry is at risk of dying out.”When we get new customers many say they haven’t had one [an ice-cream from a van] in 20 years,” she said.”We are trying to make it a part of people’s lives again… it’s such an icon.”
‘Cool Penguin’ has been cooling Canberra children down for 12 years. Copping 50 degrees Celsius temperatures inside an ice-cream van, listening to the same jingle on repeat and spending eight sweltering hours cooling others down is not how many people want to spend a hot summer’s day.But one thing makes it all worthwhile for Canberrans Sarah and Carl Wicken.”When you turn the corner and kids are jumping up and down so excited, it’s really good,” Ms Wicken said.”I do a suburb a day and I try and do every street— I feel bad if even one child misses out.”
The ice-cream line was long on this scorching day. (ABC News: Clare Sibthorpe)
But thanks to the many loyal customers who have been buying ice-creams from the family for more than a decade, they make enough money to keep serving Canberrans.Although, she admits it takes some self-motivating to roll out of bed on a string of days above 35-degree like this week — especially considering the van’s air-conditioning has been playing up for weeks.”It would get to 50 degrees inside the van, maybe more,” she said.”Sometimes I feel like I’m going to pass out to be honest. Photo:
Sarah Wicken says she’s only aware of one other ice-cream truck company in Canberra. It returned under different owners over the years, most recently being taken over by a food company in 2015.But few of the original vehicles exist today.