The first ice cream truck and ice cream bar were credited to confectioner Harry Burt of Youngstown, Ohio, who was the creator of the Good Humor brand. In 1920. Harry Burt had just created the Jolly Boy Sucker, a lollypop on a stick. Later, while working in his ice cream parlor, Burt developed a smooth chocolate coating that was compatible with ice cream. Unfortunately, the new combination was too messy to eat.
Burt was already delivering ice cream from a motorized vehicle when he had the idea to place chocolate covered ice cream bars on a stick. His new Good Humor ice cream "sucker" was easy and clean to eat, which gave him the idea to sell it directly from his truck to consumers on the street. He obtained a patent on the ice cream bar in 1923.
Burt’s young son, Harry Jr., suggested that his dad take some of the wooden sticks used for the Jolly Boy Suckers and freeze them into the ice cream. The first ice cream on a stick was born. The name Good Humor came from the belief that a person’s “humor” or temperament was related to the humor of the palate (one’s sense of taste). To market his Good Humor Bars, Burt sent out a fleet of 12 chauffeur-driven trucks with bells to make door-to-door deliveries. The Good Humor Man was born.
Harry Burt passed away in 1926 leaving his widow Cora Burt, to continue the operation of the company.
By 1930 Cora sold the company to a New York businessman and investor by the name of M.J. Meehan acquired the national rights to the company by buying 75% of the shares. During the 1950s and 1960s, the fleet of Good Humor trucks kept expanding, and the Good Humor Man became an institution. The tinkling of the truck's bell would attract kids of all ages, in search of the delicious ice cream on a stick.
The Meehan family owned the company until 1961 when it was sold to Unilever's U.S. subsidiary, the Thomas J. Lipton Company. In 1976, when the company’s direct-selling business was phased out in favor of grocery stores and free-standing freezer cabinets, the trucks were parked for the last time.