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.


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.


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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27 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.

      • Jo says:

        Yes! Same in Glen Cove. The monkey meant a free one next time. I got the monkey once. I can still remember that day like it was yesterday, when I “won”! I was probably only about four or five years old.

        • Beverly Yates says:

          I grew up in Memphis born 1953. These were a highlight of my childhood! I didn’t get many treats, but I always was given a dime for the ice cream truck. I can still hear the bell ringing! My flavor was Boysenberry. Wow, Boysenberry Buried Treasure. I’m so grateful I lived when I did. What a singular blessing!

        • margie smith says:

          Oh my gosh, I was just telling my 6 year old grandson about the ice cream truck and this “ice cream” (sherbert) on a stick and an animal being in the ice cream on the stick and also remember the day I got a monkey 🙂

  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.

      • Ed Palladimo says:

        I’m from Boston…Hood Dairy Products sponsored those type trucks
        In my neighborhood of East Boston, Bill Mackarete owned his truck…would come around about 8pm and ring a bell.eveey three or four blocks….you would actually jump up into the truck and everyone would take turns ordering and Bill would reach in to the freezer and grab your choice…my favorite was a chocolate malt…..

        • Wayne P says:

          Hey Eddie, Wayne P. here, your neighbor….Who was Bill Mackarete anyway??
          Anyone have any idea of who he was????
          Hope Louise and Susan are doing fine. …

  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.

  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.

  11. Shelley W says:

    I grew up in a small town called Machias NY. (45 mins south of Buffalo) I remember walking to the local store and buying these with a dear friend. We’d sit on my front porch to eat them. I never knew what they were called until yesterday. I was telling a friend of mine and she said her late husband told her he loved Hidden Treasure ice creams and maybe this was what I was remembering. We did some googling and sure enough it was! The raspberry sherbert was SOOOO good. It was nothing like any brand of sherbert you find today. (trust me, Ive tried many brandslooking for that same taste) Such fond memories!!!

  12. Peter Whitehead says:

    I can remember when purchase a . circus surprise sherbet ice cream from the ice cream truck ,after eating all sherbet ice cream off the plastic stick, their was a . Circus surprise character underneath the ice cream and if was a monkey or a clown you will win a free ice cream, the next time that ice cream truck comes by you can trade the monkey or the clown for a free ice cream.

  13. Charliy Nash says:

    I remember these, but I could swear that they were called Treasure Pops, perhaps a competing brand

  14. Anonymous says:

    I remember these ice creams , they were great ! I grew up in Yonkers NY ,
    And in my neighborhood the only way you could get a free ice cream , you had to get the monkey

  15. Anonymous says:

    I remember living at my Mémère‘s house ( French grandmother) in Worcester MA for several summers (1962-65?) and always so excited sitting on her long porch waiting for the ice dream truck to come. The single item I ordered each night was a Buried Treasure (always an orange sherbet). So creamy, smooth, satisfying. Never grew tired of it. Probably because the treasure was different each night. Well, almost always!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Grew up in Southern California.. I remember these being chocolate…

  17. Debbie says:

    There really is NO internet information on “the country store” that you walked into that sold candy. I remember it parked about 2 blocks from my elementary school in Commack on Long Island. Always got the watermelon jolly rancher stix. I vaguely remember it being a green truck, but it’s well over 40 years ago.

  18. Lois Waldick says:

    I grew up in Ontario and the buried treasure we got was a creamsicle type ice cream with the buried treasure in side.Just wondering if the treasure that was buried inside is worth anything

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