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Yum Yum ice cream truck owner reflects on 8 years of Popsicles

September 12th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

Story and Photos by Caresa Alexander

LOGAN—As the strains of “Old MacDonald” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” ring down the street from the red ice cream van, children come running, money clenched in their hands, eagerly awaiting the cold, sweet treats.

Oscar Marquina of Logan has owned the Yum Yum Ice Cream truck for eight years. As he prepares to sell his family business, Marquina reflects on lessons learned and experiences he will not forget.

Born in Venezuela, Marquina immigrated to New Jersey in 1998. A couple of years later he came to Utah to study mechanical engineering at Utah State University. As he was finishing his freshman year at college, Marquina and his mom lost their jobs. Since out-of-state tuition was expensive, Marquina decided to go into business for himself.

“We were just scrambling for money,” Marquina said. “A friend of mine was running the green Jeep. He was running an ice cream truck in Ogden. He made me an offer and I bought it. I took a chance and it worked out well.”

Flexible hours are a big advantage as an owner of a business, Marquina says. He can take vacations when he wants and not worry about keeping to a schedule. The ice cream truck business also helped pay for college.

But the work has not been all Creamsicles and snowcones.

“The heat, the long hours, the music,” Marquina said with a sigh. “You are listening to it for like eight hours straight. It drives you nuts. After two years you kind of forget about it, like you put it at the back of your mind. The first couple of years are a nightmare.”

The beginning was a little rough. Trying to manage school, a social life and work every day took dedication. But even a mugging didn’t deter him.

“It was my first year,” Marquina began. “That’s when I was using the green Jeep. I used normal coolers to put dry ice in. This bunch of kids just came and opened the doors and took the cooler out and ice cream and started running away.”

Marquina is quick to point out that there are no hard feelings. It was a prank and he still sees those kids, now grown.

“We are friends,” Marquina said. Then he paused and added with a laugh: “One of these days I am going to beat them up.”

Another advantage of driving the ice cream truck is Marquina became familiar with the city of Logan and the people in Cache Valley. He has seen kids and the area grow. Even with the changing times, he hasn’t seen much change in children.

“Kids are the same as they used to be,” Marquina said. “They all like to have fun and play tricks and goof around.”

Clarissa and Katrina Gibby came up to Marquina’s van at Willow Park. Clarissa had just celebrated her eighth birthday and the family was playing at the park. Their mother Allison bought an ice cream sandwich, and Clarissa had a pink strawberry ice cream bar.

Katrina, 6, held up her Oreo ice cream bar. The crumbs were the best, she said. Katrina just began the first grade but already she understands the importance of good routes for the ice cream truck.

“It probably comes around here because there are a lot of people and it gets a lot more customers and more money,” Katrina explained seriously.

She is right. Marquina goes where the children are. Parks and certain neighborhoods are some of the best places to sell ice cream. Marquina has regular routes regular customers.

Next year, Naseer Mirza of Logan will run the business and he plans to continue the tradition.

Mirza has lived in Logan since 1989. Originally from Pakistan, Mirza was owner of Central Park restaurant for two years and currently works for Icon Health & Fitness. He heard that Marquina’s business was for sale and decided it would be a good investment.

“Oscar is a friend of my son,” Mirza said. “He told him that they want to get out of the business and if we are interested in it we can have it.”

Mirza plans to keep the business local and not make many changes except maybe purchase more vehicles.

As Marquina prepares to move on, he realizes that the ice cream truck business was a stepping stone in his path of life. Although the way was sometimes challenging, Marquina has learned lessons that will help him in the future.

“Timewise, there can be a lot of pressure trying to mange everything at once,” he said. “But I guess that is part of life. At some point you are going to have to handle everything.”


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