I was driving on Wolf Road in Colonie last weekend, and I pulled up to a stoplight. In the lane to the right of my car, a white, cube-like van pulled up next to me. I looked at the logo emblazoned on the side, and it said Mr. Ding-a-Ling.

Having not grown up in the Capital Region, nor Upstate, New York, I was unfamiliar with the name that was facing me out my passenger seat window. So, I went online, and did a search to learn more about this brand, and its history.

As it turns out, Mr. Ding-a-Ling trucks have been bringing smiles to the faces of Upstate New York kids for more than 40 years.

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It all began with a single ice cream truck, which launched into action nearly 50 years ago. According to a story in The Daily Gazette, Brian Collis drove to Springfield, Massachusetts on March 31, 1975, and bought his first ice cream truck, which he himself operated for nearly a decade.

Finally, in 1982, he expanded his operation, bringing a second truck into the business. The popularity of the Mr. Ding-a-Ling brand continued to grow, and by 1990, he had 16 trucks.

According to the company's official website, now, there are 66 trucks currently in operation.

With those 66 current trucks, the company writes that they have 66 current drivers employed, a fleet that is made up of mostly college students and seasonal workers. The company covers a wide range of cities and towns that surround the Capital Region. They have trucks operating in Utica, NY to the West, Pittsfield , Ma to the East and Middletown, NY to the South and Burlington, Vermont to the North.

The business model has evolved over the years, as well. Not only can you wait in your driveway or yard for the trucks to approach on any given summer evening, but you can also rent out these trucks for parties and other private events. The truck will pull directly into your driveway, and serve cold treats to the attendees of your gathering.

The result of the rental process looks like this:

An interesting wrinkle to being a truck driver was outlined by The Daily Gazette. The amount of money a driver makes is directly dictated by how much they sell. They are instructed to buy the ice cream, sell it, and keep whatever profit they make. Drivers "rent" the trucks each day, and pay for their own fuel.

It's a unique business model, but in doing it this way, Collis and Company have been able to keep smiles on the faces of Capital Region and Upstate New York kids for nearly half a century.

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