In recent years food has become as trendy as various fashions, seasonally going in style and after time, drifting away into the recesses of our bellies, not to be thought of again. Whether it be cupcakes, super fruits or bacon, food crazes have become widespread with real implications in the food industry. Food trucks have capitalized on these fads in recent years, adding innovative elements of traditional cultural recipes to create contemporary twists on new ethnic dishes. Nationwide these mobile vendors are breathing new life into the industry, from Korean tacos in California to new express French food. Food trucks have all the resources at their disposal to create truly unique cuisine, and have been a staple in New York’s lunch scene for many years. While street vendors may have traditionally started selling hot dogs or mixed nuts, today’s vendors are selling sophisticated and highly stylized dishes with loyal fan followings. Street vendors have largely taken to Twitter to address their customers, alerting them about daily location changes amidst Manhattans sporadically patrolled streets. So what is it about these food trucks that have caught so much attention?
The most obvious answer is one you don’t even need to stop and think about…all it takes is a sniff. That’s right; the smell of delicious sizzling meats, tangy sauces and fried goodness suffuses throughout New York’s crowded streets, tempting even the haughtiest of eaters. In fact, food trucks are perfectly engineered to be an efficient lunch time choice based on their simple business model. Their hours of activity always collide with lunchtime, they avoid rent and many overhead costs, employ minimal staff, and the food is guiltlessly designed for the average office worker to pick up and enjoy in the comfort of his own desk. Thus, food trucks are designed to sync perfectly with a New Yorker’s bustling lifestyle. All too often our jobs demand so much out of us that in order to return home at a reasonable hour we forego certain luxuries, namely lunch. Food trucks have found their niche in these workers, not requiring seating for their busy customers who have a choice of parks, steps, or their own desks to eat at.
Food trucks don’t solely exist in New York however, and have strong presences in many urban areas. Los Angeles has an enormous food truck community, boasting an estimated 7000 taco trucks alone. Food trucks of different variety exist throughout the United States, such as Hawaii’s sprawling shrimp trucks. The key to some of their widespread success lies in their cultural roots. Glancing at food trucks across the nation, they all offer a taste of culture, homegrown recipes or unique fusion ideas. These cultures vary widely from Belgian waffles to Halal food, yet each promises a taste of something new and exciting. With more Americans opening up their palettes to ethnic foods, food trucks provide an affordable means to sample cuisine that ordinarily one would have to pay upwards of fifteen dollars for at a restaurant.
Many of these trucks have been dubbed “specialty trucks”, for the exotic cuisine they serve and for their unique truck designs and catchy names. These specialty trucks tend to roam around their cities more, with a recognizable design for their loyal customer base. They garner special attention for their elusive, unique offers, and for many customers of these trucks, catching them is a large part of the eating experience. Some of these trucks have come to take on a legendary status, like New York’s Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, or the growing fleet of Kogi trucks in Los Angeles. These trucks involve citygoers in an authentic experience, searching for the trucks, finding somewhere to sit and eat, and then relaying the savory experience to friends and family. Many hip urbanites find a definite charm in these trucks, supporting small business and maintaining an outdoor, anti-establishment feel. In many ways these food trucks respond to an entire generation who grew up on junk food, casting aside the pretenses of five star restaurants for a truly satisfying and affordable meal. Food trucks serve a wide range of Americans, and gain new followers every day. Their mobile nature allows them to achieve immense profitability, while continually pushing the limits on their exotic food. Though they have been increasingly pushed out of popular areas by police pressure, rest assured that their Twitter feeds will keep you in the loop; and as long as we continue to salivate when we catch a scent from blocks away, there will always be a place for food trucks in our cities.