a brief history of food trucks

A Brief History of Food Trucks

As a food truck owner, you have a long and proud history of getting delicious food to the people. Street food has been around for thousands of years. Recently, a highly decorated food cart dating back to A.D. 79 was unearthed in Pompeii. It came with multiple countertops, holes for hot food, and illustrations of its wares, which included duck bones, goats, and snails! In the United States, portable food service goes back to the 19th-century wild west and the chuck wagons that accompanied cowboys, early settlers, and gold rushers.

Food Carts – The Food Truck Predecessor

What do you think was the first type of food cart in the United States? You guessed it! The hot dog cart! In 1894, sausage vendors in the Eastern US had the brilliant idea to hawk their wares to students outside of big universities such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. These carts became fondly known as “dog wagons.” This was probably the inspiration for Oscar Mayer’s first Weiner Mobile, founded in 1936. Today, hot dog carts dot the country, especially in big cities such as New York and Chicago.

The Truck that Started it All!

Why do you think ice cream trucks are so nostalgic? It’s because they have been circling neighborhoods and parks around the country, calling to children like the pied piper since the 1950s. It was only a matter of time before someone would take the business model of the ice cream truck and apply it to other cuisines. That someone was Raul Martinez, who purchased an old ice cream truck in 1974 and converted it into a taco truck, called King Taco.

The Modern Food Truck

Today, there are almost a quarter of a million food trucks, trailers, and carts serving up delicious street food across the United States. These trucks go well beyond the ice cream treat or the taco, although those are both still going strong. Today, we have everything from bougie coffee trucks to chuck-wagon style BBQ, and from organic health-food trucks to trucks featuring fried everything!

If there’s one thing that unites everyone, from all times and all walks of life, it’s a love of good food. That makes street food a commonality throughout history and across the globe. From ancient Pompei to the new millenium, people love a good food truck!

If you’re looking for ideas of additional things to sell at your food truck, click here! While you’re at it, make sure your info is up to date on the WTF app. If you don’t have a free account yet, be sure to get the vendor app and get started so hungry people know just where to find you!

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