dickie-dee-1950s

If you are of a certain age you will remember the white bicycle carts with ice cream that used to be pedalled through Vancouver neighbourhoods and near beaches. Kids would hear the tinkling bells on the handle bars of the cart and plead with parents for money to buy an ice cream.

This article provides a back story to Dickie Dee. “The Barish family founded Dickie Dee ice cream in 1959, which was retailed across North America. The famous Dickie Dee ice cream cart, a modified tricycle equipped with bells, became a household name for fun and quality ice cream products. The company began with eight ice cream tricycles and grew to became Canada’s largest merchandiser with over 10,000 units.”

Ice cream innovations such as the Chipwich, O’Henry, and Kondike Nuggets were first introduced via the Dickie Dee ice cream carts. The CBC has done a follow up story on this family-owned Winnipeg business which was sold to Unilever in 1992. At that time the carts were in 300 cities and employed thousands, mainly teenaged boys.

I have a story about a Dickie Dee cart, the Arthur Laing bridge, and Queen Elizabeth from my friend Major Gordon Bristow who was the Queen’s Equerry and lived in Buckingham Palace. He was escorting the Queen and Prince Philip from the Vancouver airport when Prince Philip saw a Dickie Dee cart from the bridge, and asked if he and the Queen could have an “ice”.

The motorcade went down the ramp and stopped while a royal aide ran over to the shocked Dickie Dee attendant, and gave a British five pound note for two “ice lollies”. The motorcade then circled and  repeated the exit cloverleaf very slowly while the Queen and Prince Philip enjoyed the ice cream. As they exited the cloverleaf the second time, the royal aide took the half finished ice creams and handed them to a lady in the crowd, so that no one would know about the unscheduled treat.

Dickie Dee carts have disappeared off the horizon of summer retailing. But a lot of Vancouverites will certainly remember the sound of those bells.

ROYAL Queen 25