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The History of the Food Truck: A North American Tradition

Food trucks are part and parcel of North American tradition and employ thousands of people. Most food trucks in America offer innovative mobile kitchen experiences. So whether you want to hire a Mexican food truck for parties or get a quick bite or taco, food trucks provide another dimension to dining. But where did they come from?


Early History of Food Trucks

Food trucks are popular in North America, but their origins date back several decades. The modern food truck evolved from traditional food carts used in the Roman era. In America, the first trucks date back to the covered wagons (chuckwagon) used to sell food to loggers and cowboys in the American wilderness.

Chuckwagons would feature various foods, including cured meat, beans, coffee, and biscuits. Not much advancement occurred until early food sellers started catering to university students. Most wagon sellers set up shop outside dorms at famous universities like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

By 1936, the first modern food truck, Wienermobile, took over America, advertising the Oscar Meyer wieners. The Wienermobile toured the country selling hot dogs and became a sensation at schools, parades, orphanages, hospitals, and more. Ice cream vans also joined the scene in the 1950s.


The Modern Food Truck Scene

Wienermobile wagons and ice cream trucks sell specific foods, mainly hot dogs and ice cream. So when did the flamboyant taco trucks and modern mobile kitchens arrive? The first taco truck did not appear in America until 1974 when Raul Martinez bought and converted an ice cream van to a King Taco truck.

Before Raul’s exploits, the Mexican loncheras sold incredible food, just not on a truck. The scene would change first after the success of King Taco, which sold $70 work of tacos on the same night. Raul would later open a brick and mortar store, and other entrepreneurs joined in to create a fast-growing food truck scene.

Food trucks selling cheeseburgers, fat sandwiches, fries, tomatoes, and lettuce became a common theme in the 1980s. These food trucks were a huge success but only in limited areas. It wasn't until 2008 that the broader food truck revolution set up the current scene in North America.


The Food Truck Revolution

2008 is the year attributed to the food truck revolution. At the time, more chefs were getting laid off, and fewer restaurants were hiring due to the great recession. Food trucks became an apparent solution, requiring minimal investment and skill to run and manage. The rise of social media also meant people could market on their own.

The late 2000s saw the rise of Korean BBQ trucks on the west coast, and Dumpling Bars were causing a wave in the east. By 2010, LA introduced requirements for food trucks to pass inspections, and New York moved trucks away from parking meters. Still, food trucks grew from strength to strength and have become embedded in the American tradition.


Hire a Mexican Food Truck for Parties

The modern food trucks have transformed from classic wagons to true gourmet. For Americans, trucks offer a convenient option for getting a quick bite of your favorite dish. At Los Chilangos, we leverage food trucks to provide professional expanded catering for all banquets. We specialize in office deliveries, cocktail reception, corporate events, birthday parties, weddings, brunches, holidays, graduations, and more.

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