It’s late afternoon in a Lebanon neighborhood and somewhere in the distance an ice cream serenade alerts kiddos that Lataka’s Tasty Treats truck is getting close, which means something cold and sweet is coming up the street.
Yep, the ice cream man is back in business, only in the Cedar City this summer he comes in the form of the husband-and-wife team of DeMarcus and Lataka Foster.
At one of their early stops one day last week, 9-year-old Emmett Finch bit into a Creamy Cotton Candy and proclaimed with ecstasy, “This ice cream is delicious! This ice cream is delicious!”
So, what else is on the menu? Well, more than 50 frigid flavors that wear such names as Bomb Pops, Rich Bars, Sponge Bob, Sonic the Hedgehog, Avengers, Vanilla Big Dippers, Cookie and Cream Avalanche Cup, Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Eclairs. Gotta eat these sweet treats fast if you don’t want any to melt and drip on to your shirt.
“This was my husband’s idea. He’s always full of ideas,” said Lebanon native Lataka Officer Foster, who teaches pre-K at Sam Houston Elementary School. “This is probably the first idea I’ve been totally 100 percent excited about because I always wanted to own an ice cream truck. With my extended time at home it allowed us to create Lataka’s Tasty Treats,”
Added her mate, DeMarcus, “I guess with everything going on in the news, I thought, ‘Man, what can I do to bring my bit of happiness to the world,’ and ice cream popped up. ‘Hey, let’s do an ice cream truck.’
“I came up with the idea a week before Memorial Day, and we thought that would be a great day to start. I bought a truck and had six days to transform it from a work van to an ice cream truck. I worked night and day on it around the clock plus did my regular workload. We had a soft opening on Memorial Day.”
The reaction from their first-day customers?
“Pure happiness, nostalgia. It was so nostalgic for so many people and created overwhelming excitement for children who had never seen such a variety of ice cream at one time coming to their house: pure joy for everyone,” said Lataka, a 1999 graduate of Lebanon High who holds an early childhood education degree from MTSU and a master’s degree in theory and practice from Arkansas State University.
DeMarcus, a project manager for architectural glass and metal company Alexander Metal in Nashville, is a Mississippian who moved to Nashville as a teenager and graduated from Pearl-Cohn High School. The couple has been married for a year and a half.
“The basis of this is novelty ice creams. We have 53 flavors,” said DeMarcus.
“We run six days a week. Each day has a different route. We’ve been establishing our Lebanon routes and go as far as from Highway 109 to Central Pike to Cainsville Road. It covers most of Lebanon. We just kind of hit spots that people ask us to come,” Lataka said of the neighborhoods they visit.
Added DeMarcus, “Prices run from $1 to $4. We try to offer as many one- and two-dollar items as possible to make it affordable like the Bomb Pop Junior, a red, white and blue Popsicle. Growing up we called it the Firecracker, but now it’s called the Bomb Pop. It’s one of the most sought after one-dollar items. We also have some sour Popsicles that are popular for one dollar.”
Other dollar treats on the menu include vanilla and chocolate-flavored treats, Fudgesicles and vanilla ice cream sandwiches.
Lataka’s favorite is Frozen Lemonade, while DeMarcus bites for Cherry Cyclone.
While their confections kept plenty cold, the ice cream peddlers found themselves a bit on the warm side during their first few weeks in action. The entrepreneurs had to make a swift decision.
“Our first truck was without AC, so we purchased a new truck last Wednesday. We had to transform it as well,” said Lataka.
“When we bought the first truck, we didn’t know the business would take off this fast. The van didn’t have air conditioning and the transmission was slipping. We found out this is something we can do long term,” DeMarcus said regarding the major purchase.
This week the pair plans to expand their business by offering nostalgic candies such as Lemonhead, Red Hots, Sweetarts, Now and Later, Sour Patch Kids and other sweets.
As for their roles in selling the ice cream, DeMarcus said, “I do all the driving. She’ll take the order, and I’ll get it out of the freezer, and she’ll hand it to the customers.”
Said Lataka, “He’s become the Ice Cream Man, and because so many of the children know me from school as ‘Miss Lataka,’ that’s what they call me.”
The biggest treat the teacher has received throughout this venture?
“I literally love to see people happy. Ice cream makes everyone happy. I just enjoyed seeing all the smiles from young to old,” said the tasty treat lady.
LATAKA’S TASTY TREATS
This ice cream and frozen treat truck recently hit the streets of Lebanon and offers 53 flavors of chilly sweet treats including ice cream sandwiches, fudge bars, cherry cyclones and frozen lemonades as well as nostalgic candies. The truck runs 4:30-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. weekends through a wide swath of neighborhoods. The truck will visit daycares and local businesses upon request. The routes are posted daily on the trucks Facebook page.