Everyone's familiar with the sound.
It's summertime and the sun's out. Maybe you're a kid running through the sprinkler, maybe there's a neighborhood game of kickball going on. Maybe you're just on the porch, having a chat with a friend.
Then you hear it. And like moths to a flame, you're drawn. Choco Taco? Firecracker? Chipwich? So many choices! Yes, that melody hits your ears from the truck passing on by and you know: the ice cream man has arrived.
And for 67 years, the ice cream man in the greater Boston area has been Allan Ganz. Now, he can lay claim to being the most unique of his kind in the world, having broken the record for the longest career as an ice cream man.
Allan joined his father's ice cream truck and starting selling with his dad at the age of 10 in 1947. Then, they sold in the cities of Everett and Malden, Massachusetts, each right outside Boston. Ganz continued working with his dad until he was 19. After a 22-month stint in the armed forces, he returned to selling with his dad and hasn't stopped serving since.
"My fondest memory," Allan told the Salem News, "is just being healthy enough to make these kids happy and put a smile on their face.
In 1977, Allan bought his own truck and has since relocated to the town of Peabody, about 20 miles northeast of Boston. His typical season runs from April to October, and the dedication is high.
On a regular week during the school year, Allan will leave the house at 5:30 a.m. to go pick up his ice cream orders and stock the truck twice a week, a process that can take up to 3 hours. He'll often head out to sell around 1:45 p.m. each day while local schools are in session, to be ready when students are dismissed for the day.
When school's out in the summer, Allan will hit the road at 11 a.m. and operate his route until 8:30 at night. His popularity has spawned appearances on The Food Network, numerous profiles in local media, and even a fan-created Facebook group page called Fans of Allan the Ice Cream Man, which boasts more than 1,000 members.
As a truly neighborhood institution, Allan has estimated in the past that he knows up to 90% of his customers by name and has even opened "credit" accounts where parents will give him a certain amount of money and allow their children repeat visits until that credit runs out.
Now 76 years old, Allan shows no signs of slowing down. He has to look no further than his father for continued career inspiration, as Ganz the elder sold ice cream until he turned 86.
"My father would take me by the hand to see the ice cream man," says Peabody resident Amy Lyn Blake. "My son is now a teenager and when he hears that song, he grabs his allowance and heads out to see Allan. ...Allan Ganza has been a part of my family for three generations. He will forever be 'The Ice Cream Man!'"
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