Influencing Happiness with Ice Cream


May 20, 2020

While some businesses are struggling in these times replete with regulations and social distancing guidelines, new businesses are finding a footing. The Harlem area will soon be seeing and hearing a novel business that has been travelling some streets since the 1920s: an ice cream truck. Bliss Ice Cream, which will open this week, is owned and operated by Jessica Cochran.

As a nine-year-old living in Seattle, Cochran fondly remembers the ice cream truck and its recognizable music that stopped children from playing and triggered a run to the nearest adult to ask for money for a cold treat.

Getting a popsicle or an ice cream sandwich from the ice cream truck is a tradition that many children - and adults - treasure as a part of what makes summer memorable and pleasurable.

The first ice cream truck has been credited to candy-maker Harry Burt of Youngstown, Ohio. Burt was already delivering ice cream from a motorized vehicle when he had the idea to put chocolate covered ice cream bars on a stick. His new Good Humor® ice cream "sucker" was easy to eat without creating a mess, which gave him the idea to sell it directly from his truck to consumers on the street.

Although Good Humor sold its fleet in the mid-seventies to focus on grocery store sales, a host of competitors who sell frozen treats are still rolling down the road. These trucks sell pre-packaged favorites to a new generation of children listening to hear the familiar jingle in summertime.

Cochran credits her friends and family for helping to make her dream come true. She was also inspired by the words of Zig Ziglar: "If you can dream it, you can achieve it."

"I have talked about this idea for the past ten years, so when I found an old van all stripped out and realized it would be perfect for an ice cream truck, I decided it was time to actually put my dream of owning and operating an ice cream truck into action," Cochran said.

After acquiring the 1985 Chevy Astro van, Cochran realized her work had just begun! Once the vehicle was road worthy, she painted it pink, purple, and turquoise since an ice cream truck needs bright colors and eye-catching designs in order to be noticed by as many people as possible.

The business name: Bliss Ice Cream drips down each side of the van in strawberry pink lettering.

When asked how she came by the name, Cochran explained, "Bliss is my oldest daughter Gracie's middle name, and who isn't happy when they're eating ice cream?"

Believe it or not, science does suggest that ice cream can contribute to one's bliss. There is evidence that ice cream produces serotonin when consumed by humans. This is the feel-good hormone that helps to enhance one's mood. So, besides providing beneficial calcium and boosting brainpower on a hot summer day, ice cream can warm the heart.

Another attention-grabber that Cochran installed is a Wolo 345-an electronic horn and public address system that will enable her presence in a neighborhood to be known. Preloaded with fifty musical tunes, the Wolo further comes equipped with a microphone and volume control to allow the user to adjust to any sound level.

Cochran secured all of the necessary permits and licenses so that she could start her side-hustle as an independent contractor and food vendor. During the school year, she teaches sixth grade at Harlem Elementary School, so this will be her official summer job in 2020.

Next, she purchased a generator to operate the freezer that will ride in the back of the van and hold a variety of frozen treats, ranging in price from $1.00-$4.00. Some of these will be traditional items like vanilla ice cream sandwiches, fudgesicles, and Bomb Pops-the iconic red, white, and blue rocket-shaped confection that comes stacked in cherry, lime, and blue raspberry flavors.

Other frosty treats will be cartoon-themed, like the Popsicle® SpongeBob SquarePants™ Bar, which is a fruit punch and cotton candy-flavored treat.

Bliss Ice Cream will also carry Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle™ Face Bars and Sonic the Hedgehog™ Bars by Blue Bunny. Fruit-flavored frozen confections with gumball eyes, these are single-serve impulse items that are typically not available for retail sale through grocery stores. Instead, they are most often sold through ice cream trucks, vending machines, and sometimes convenience stores.

"I wanted to offer something that the children in the Harlem and Fort Belknap area couldn't just go out and buy at Kwik Stop, E-Z Mart, or Albertsons," Cochran stated.

Even though Cochran received her first order of ice cream on May 13, she will wait to take her first run-following the predetermined school bus routes-on May 22 when school is officially out in Harlem. Sometime following that date, she will hold a formal Grand Opening reveal. Cochran will also experiment with different routes so that she can discover the most profitable ones and then run them regularly to keep satisfied customers coming back.

In addition to decorating her truck with loud colors and playing catchy music, Cochran plans to promote her business on social media to attract new customers and to market her merchandise. She also encourages people to watch for route schedules and potential promotions.

Since pow wows would have been popular occasions to support her business, Cochran expressed disappointment in the fact that so many of them have been cancelled because of COVID-19. Still, Cochran plans to park her truck at other crowd events like rodeos or Fourth of July celebrations where she hopes to help people find their bliss.

According to one of the pioneers in the discussion of bliss, mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell suggested that people find their bliss by discovering what makes them the happiest. Sometimes people equate bliss with being in a state of euphoria, but in reality, being blissful is the state we're in when we are doing what brings us a deep sense of joy-like eating ice cream.

Nostalgic about her own childhood and the days of hearing the tunes of the ice cream truck, Cochran anticipates bringing her customers that sense of bliss.


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