Buried Treasure

When the ice cream man visited your neighborhood, you had some quick decisions to make, like how to best spend that handful of change, ensuring you got the most bang for your ice cream buck. For many, the decision was simple – Buried Treasure. This frozen treat not only soothed the summer heat, but once finished, you were left with a cool little plastic toy.

The story begins in the 1950s, when the Big Drum Company developed the machinery to automatically fill ice cream cones, a technology they used to great success with their iconic Drumstick frozen treats. In the following decade, ice cream novelty items were becoming more popular, and the company came of with the idea of a plastic toy that would also serve as the stick.

They used their machines to cover the toys within a variety of ice cream flavors, which remained hidden until you finished eating. What was left was a plastic toy that was fun to collect and trade with friends. They called the product Buried Treasure and soon after, ice cream trucks around the country were selling these novelty items like hotcakes.

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The toys came in a rainbow of colors and might be a car, train, pirate, cowboy, baseball player or circus clown (to name but a few.) All told, there were 65 different toys introduced during the 60s and 70s. As any flavor of ice cream could be used, there were many different varieties of Buried Treasure available, with certain flavors more common in some regions than others.

Folks around the New York area will likely remember the type that consisted of either orange or raspberry sherbet, while in other parts of the country chocolate and vanilla versions were the norm. It was never really about the frozen part anyway, but rather the plastic prize that lay underneath.

You may also remember that many ice cream trucks would allow you to turn in your new toy for a free ice cream should you find a specific type of a certain color, say a white circus clown or a blue cowboy. This enticement helped make Buried Treasure one of the most beloved items of the era.

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Sadly, Buried Treasure is no longer available, probably because later generations of kids became less enamored with something as simple as a plastic giraffe on a stick. For millions of former 70s kids, however, these toys can bring back a flood of memories and, as such, they are sought after by collectors, fetching prices higher than you might imagine.

Back in the day though, we didn’t think about them being worth something someday. We just enjoyed them for what they were, a simple childhood pleasure.

Do you remember asking for a Buried Treasure whenever the ice cream man came around? Did you collect these small toys, and better yet, do you still have them? I’d love to hear all of your memories of these iconic ice cream treats in our comments section below, as we pay tribute to another small pleasure from our collective youth.

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13 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’v been surching for a long time, I could only remember the treasure part of the name.
    It’ like I researching my history

  2. kathryn napolitano says:

    I don’t have any saved, but boy did I scream everytime the ice cream man came around!!!! I couldn’t wait to get a burried treasure!!! I thought I was the only one who remembered those!! I grew up in Massapequa Long Island, and they were every body’s favorite treat!!! WOW!!! I miss my childhood days.

    • Eric says:

      I too grew up in Massapequa, NY and while ‘Buried Treasure’ sounds familiar, I seem to recall these being called ‘Circus Surprise’. If you got a stick with the monkey character stick, you could the next one free.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just explained these to my five-year-old daughter after chasing down an ice cream truck for the first time with her. I grew up in Rochester, NY (Brighton) and if you got a white horse from Skippy’s Ice Cream Truck in the mid-’70s you got a free one next time. It was either raspberry or orange (maybe tangerine) sherbet, and EVERY kid watched you eat if you were lucky enough to unwrap a white stick.Anyone who got a white horse was a neighborhood celebrity for a week.

    Being a kid rocked!

    If I remember correctly, the wrapper was sort of a dull sky blue/aqua blue, but I only saw wrappers from what looks like the ’60s pictured. I would love for these to make a comeback.

  4. Bill says:

    Do you remember the ice cream truck that you could walk into? I believe it had a country store motif, and you could walk into the back of the truck and they had a counter with candy.

    • 70sKid says:

      Bill, you might be thinking of the “Country Store on Wheels” which was just as described. We are hoping to do an article on these trucks eventually, but there is so little available information. If anyone has information that they would like to share, we would love to see it.

  5. Liz says:

    I grew up in Upstate New York and these were my absolute favorite!!! Raspberry buried treasure sherbet will always be such a fond memory from my childhood.. I sure wish my children were able to enjoy the taste and treasure just like I did in the 70s.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I grew up in Mastic Beach in the 70’s and these were called “Circus Surprise”. The monkey got you the free ice cream!

  7. Ken F says:

    I’ve got a box of probably 50 – 60 of those from the 60’s. You’re saying that they are actually worth money? (!)

  8. jonathan says:

    Does anyone know if they sold a blue monkey. If you got a blue monkey you got a free ice cream. It was like you hit the lottery. If anyone has a blue monkey I would love to buy it.
    Thanks
    Jonathan

  9. Joe Wenzel says:

    Me too. Our Ice Cream man set it up if you got the monkey you got a free one. Must have been one of the more rare figures underneath because as a kid I only got the monkey once. But it was a great day when I finally got one. Woo-hoo!

  10. Lisa says:

    I grew up in Rialto, California and that was my favorite ice cream. I sure miss that ice cream and I only got the prized stick one time. It was the white one.

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