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.