Splatz Ice Cream Truck Delivers Sweet Treats To Rim Country Neighborhoods

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Alexis Bechman/Roundup

Abraham Ryan marvels at his ice cream selection Saturday. Colleen Johnson (above right), of Splatz Ice Cream Novelties, said she is having a blast with her new business.

What would summer be without an ice cream truck filling your neighborhood with sweet treats and that familiar musical tune?

Well just in time for the season, one local woman has revived the mind-chilling industry in Payson, handing out a variety of Good Humor delicacies every day.

Colleen Johnson, owner of Splatz Ice Cream Novelties, rescued a 1970s ice cream truck from the Valley and with a few spots of color and two arctic cold freezers, opened up shop.

On Saturday, the Roundup rode along in the Splatz ice cream truck, witnessing firsthand the power of that nostalgic tune on children.

From all corners of the neighborhoods, children wandered out to the sidewalks, waving Johnson down frantically.

Out of breath and amazed at the selection of 30 ice cream novelties, children pointed wildly at the side of the truck.

After changing their minds at least a half dozen times, Johnson cheerfully handed out fudge bars, Dora the Explorer pops, creamsicles, drumsticks, chocolate chip cookie sandwiches and even the two-ball screwball, a sour ice cream concoction with gumballs inside.

“It’s a small town nostalgic venture that also seems to be a way to soften the hard economic times — parents may not be able to treat kids to movies or dinners out, but they can buy an ice cream novelty,” Johnson said.

Johnson explained she started the business April 3 after becoming unemployed.

Looking for something fun to do and with the encouragement of her 10-year-old son, Christopher, Johnson decided to start an ice cream business.

“I launched the business and have had a tremendous response from the community, from moms who were so excited they couldn’t decide what to pick, to retirees who ordered in amazement, to small children who were hearing the music box tunes for the first time in their lives,” she said. “For me, it was a way to create my own work when I could not find employment.”

Splatz carries a treat for all price points, from $2 to 25 cent Otter Pops; Johnson said it is important that every child walks away with something.

So far, Johnson’s route includes Payson, Mesa del Caballo and the Tonto Apache Reservation.

She hopes to eventually expand into Tonto Basin, Kohl’s Ranch and Christopher Creek with several more trucks.

She would also like to start a recognition program with area schools, to award students that have demonstrated compassion for others or done good deeds without being asked.

Listen for the Splatz Ice Cream Novelties truck in your neighborhood, especially in the afternoon, when school ends.

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