By John Burton |
MIDDLETOWN – It’s about the memories as much as the ice cream for Mark Hinlicky.
“I have these memories etched in my mind, as a kid, chasing these trucks around, these Good Humor trucks,” recalled Hinlicky, explaining why he started his own side business.
For three years this summer, Hinlicky of Middletown, with the help of his now 11-year-old son, Alex, has been operating Hinlickity’s Ice Cream, a play on words of his name. “I wanted to find a way to bring back those memories for today.”
Conjuring up those bygone days of his youth, Hinlicky, 55, located and purchased two vintage ice cream trucks. After searching for about five years, he found 1954 and 1956 Chevy trucks, one with an enclosed cab, the other with an open canopy and without the doors. “We restored them, did a little of the cosmetic stuff to it,” to return the trucks to their former glory.
Over the last three years, Hinlicky and Alex have donned the traditional ice cream man uniforms – white shirt and pants, white peaked cap with black visor, and black bowties. And over the course of the warm weather, they take one of the trucks and participate in “any kind of event,” according to Hinlicky. Hinlickity’s ice cream trucks are available for street fairs, as well as weddings, graduations and parties and corporate and charity events.
Hinlickity’s sells the Blue Bunny line of products, which he maintains is “all natural ice cream.” “It’s real ice cream,” he said, “not that frozen dairy dessert they have now with all the chemicals.” Along with the ice cream, they sell a variety of Italian ice flavors.
He thinks back to those days of his youth, growing up in the Bayshore area, when the jingle of the ice cream truck’s bells elicited an almost Pavlovian response for the neighborhood kids, like himself. “It was music to my ears. “It was like the Pied Piper,” he remembered. “The chasing of the truck” – where everyone knew the driver’s name – “on our Stingrays, roller skates, skateboards, whatever it was.”
Now he brings back that little bit of childhood joy when he and Alex work an event. Those around his age, aging Baby Boomers, sometimes get wistful when they see the Hinlickity’s Ice Cream truck, he said. They tell him: “You just brought me back 40 years,” he said. “Then you let them sit in the truck and ring the bell. That makes their day.”
The memory that seals the deal for Hinlicky, he said, is: “I remember the sound of the latch closing on the freezer door… Or when the door opens… you get the frost billowing out.
“It really does bring back your childhood.”
What makes his day, Hinlicky said, is working with his young son, who he said revels in the job, meeting people and joining in the fun of parties. “Oh, he loves it,” Hinlicky said of Alex. “We’ll be at a wedding reception and I’ll turn around and he’s dancing with the bride.”
For an 11-year-old, what’s not to like?
“He gets paid in ice cream,” Hinlicky said.
Hinlicky’s main gig is owning and operating Sprinkler Master, installing lawn irrigation systems. Hinlickity’s Ice Cream, he said, is something he can do “when and if” he retires. “It beats digging holes.”
And it could be something for Alex’s future, Hinlicky said. “He could venture off into it when he gets his (driver’s) license. He could take it to the next level,” creating memories for him to eventually share.
This article was first published in the Tastings section of the June 29-July 6, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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