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August 25th, 2010 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know

     
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Why do all the neighborhood ice cream trucks play that horrid, annoying “The Entertainer” endlessly? It’s not a traditional ice cream chime; why so common now? I expect to see some mass murders committed by drivers going batty from it. —Michael Pearce

I’ll have you know I was driving an ice cream truck when you were just a gleam in the pool boy’s eye, bucko, so don’t tell me what’s traditional.

It’s true. Just after college, I decided to celebrate the recent invention of ice by taking a job driving the ice cream wagon, and even then, “The Entertainer” was the most popular tune.

At the risk of stating the obvious, ice cream truck music isn’t like normal music. It’s not like the driver plugs in his own iPod, which just happens to be loaded with “Midnight by Glockenspiel” and “Calliopes Come Home.” Ice cream truck music comes out of a special electronic box made specifically for this purpose. In my day, the box had three settings—the other two were “Turkey in the Straw” and “Pop Goes the Weasel.” “The Entertainer” sucked least.

Modern boxes have up to 50 sucktastic songs (and, inexplicably, animal sounds—after all, who doesn’t want their kids buying ice cream from a guy who enjoys the sound of sheep bleating in dismay?), but I’m sure there are plenty of the old boxes still around—ice cream truck owners aren’t exactly noted for their extravagance.

Finally, I agree that it’s reasonable to wonder whether 10 hours of “The Entertainer” might lead to drivers’ guzzling hot blood directly from the freshly severed necks of children. Luckily, however, some merciful mechanism in the brain seems to block the music after only a few hours, leaving the driver’s mind clear to focus on murdering only those children who genuinely deserve it.

 
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