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Sending Mr. Cool all around town

When children deaf to requests for yard help jump at the song of the ice cream truck half a mile away, it's summertime.

Evan Kerzner, co-owner of the Clarence-based Mr. Cool ice cream truck fleet, sends up to 15 trucks into Western New York neighborhoods daily.

Kerzner's drivers, hawking confections from the $1 Fudgicles to $3 giant frozen Snickers bars, are independent contractors. They pay for their own gas and work on commission, the same way Kerzner did starting out in 1986. As a kid, he once thrilled to the siren song of frozen delights himself.

"I have great memories of an ice cream truck when I was little," he said. "That's what I used to tell a lot of parents who are going, 'Oh, that ice cream truck.' I tell them, 'Just think of the memories your kids are going to have.' And they just crumble."

"They realize they want the best for their kids. They're going to get them ice cream, and the kid's going to have a memory."

What's the best cruising speed for sales?

Minus one? It would benefit the driver if they stopped. I keep telling everybody: You're not going to sell any ice cream if you're always moving. You have to be stopped for someone to come up to the truck.

Why's the music so loud?

The kid needs time to run in from the backyard, "Mom can I have ice cream?" She says "OK, go get my purse." Then he's got to run up to the second floor, bring it back down. She has to take money out. Then the kid's got to come outside.

If the guy's moving too fast he'll be on the next street before the kid can get out the door.

Aren't there any other songs?

They're digital music boxes. Our trucks, some have four songs and some have eight songs.

Most of the trucks play "The Entertainer." That's what the drivers like, I guess. I used to like playing "Turkey in the Straw" myself.

Has the economy hurt ice cream trucks?

It actually helps sales, because people don't spend the money to go out. They stay home, and the only fun they'll have is if the ice cream truck comes by. What's $5 when it's $50 to take the whole family to the movies?

The most important tip for ice cream drivers?

Wave to everybody, be nice to everybody. Because that's what the people want to see. No matter if you've been working all day and it's 8 at night, always show up with a smile on your face.


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