In America, every child knows that wonderful moment where your ears perk up in recognition of the ice cream truck song, a sound that makes the world stop in its tracks, followed by the Pavlovian response in your brain that says, “Ice cream! I want some. Now!” You run to your parents to beg for money so you can get a chocolate eclair, or a bomb pop, or whatever you’re in the mood for that day. And if you don’t get the money in time to stop the truck in front of your house, you’ll chase it down the street.

In many subdivisions, the ice cream truck driver knows from experience where to stop to generate the most sales. Here’s Billy’s house. He’s gonna come out and buy something almost every day. Here’s Linda’s house. She always has friends visiting every afternoon and they’ll all run over. Even better, here’s the cul de sac where every family has a child in elementary school, the perfect ice cream demographic.

It sounds like a business that can’t fail, but times are tough for ice cream truck drivers. I talked to a friend yesterday who runs the company that sends ice cream trucks out to local communities, and he told me that they’re having a horrible summer and he’s had to lay off some employees.

How can that be? How can this not be the season of Double Fudge Bars and Twin Pops and Sundae Cones? Part of the blame belongs to the economy, but a lot more of it has to do with the heat.

That seems counter-intuitive, since I’d assume that hot weather would make ice cream sales go up, but he says the problem is that it’s been too hot. All of these days with the heat index over 100 mean that kids aren’t playing outdoors, and people are staying inside with the windows closed and the a/c on. So, when the ice cream truck rolls through the neighborhood, no one hears it.

And with schools opening next week, their busy season that wasn’t so busy is winding down.

The trucks will still roll for a few more months, and when temperatures drop back down below surface-of-the-sun readings, kids will be back outside, but some communities may have a long wait for a cold treat on wheels.