Ice cream isn't something one plans for. "Four o'clock is when I usually take my ice cream break," said nobody ever. Ice cream is an impulse born of convenience and serendipity; who can resist Mister Softee's siren song when he's parked on your block? When you want ice cream, you want it now, not when the snow stops falling. This is what makes car-hire service Uber's ice cream stunt such a tease.
From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Uber users in 33 cities, including ours, can request a visit from an ice cream truck, just as they would order a taxi, black car or SUV. All that's required is the Uber app: Slide the dial over to "ice cream" and a truck carrying a $25 delivery of ice cream for five people will be dispatched to your location. You can even follow your truck's progress in real time. In theory.
In practice, well, Uber acknowledges that actually securing one of these coveted ice cream trucks will be harder than a pint of mint chocolate chip that has been in the back of the freezer too long. "Our supply of ice cream trucks will be limited and many people will want ice cream," the Uber site says. We all scream for ice cream, and whatnot. "It may take multiple tries to find an available truck. Please be patient! We’ll be working all day to deliver as much ice cream as possible." So much for instant gratification.
Uber attempted this last summer in cities across the globe. "Call it a lesson in the pitfalls of modern marketing or just ... how not to do an ice cream social," wrote Fast Company's Christina Chaey in a post titled "The Long Hot Uber Ice Cream Truck Fiasco of 2012." A harsh assessment, to be sure, but all's fair in love, war and social-media-fueled marketing campaigns promising on-demand ice cream.
We've reached out to Uber to find out how many ice cream trucks they plan to have tied in to the service tomorrow, and who they might be. There's no harm in trying to land an ice cream delivery (and if it works out for you, please tell us your secret), but you'll be more likely to satisfy the ice cream itch if you venture out on your own.
An earlier version of this post said Uber's ice cream would be available until 6 p.m.