There are few things in life that can be part of one culture and then become part of another culture. The paletero is one such cultural icon that has made its way into the mainstream American way of life.
In the United States, ice cream trucks have been around for a long time and are still a big part of the neighborhood environment. For those who have lived in the United States for a long time seeing the traditional ice cream truck and hearing the music from its loud speakers can still bring back memories.
But for a few years now, starting mostly in predominantly Latino neighborhoods there has been a different kind of ice cream man. More of a popsicle man rather than an ice cream man, the paletero has become an expected staple in most Latino neighborhoods. In place of a truck, the paletero pushes a brightly colored cart and announces his welcome presence with the familiar ringing of bells as he makes his way down the street.
Offering a tasty variety of Mexican style popsicles and ice cream treats as well as candy and sometimes chips or soda, the paletero has become one of those pleasant things that is a welcome site on a hot day.
While starting in mostly Latino neighborhoods, the paletero has made his way into the mainstream. Now paleteros can be seen in many areas throughout the city. Everywhere from downtown upscale shopping districts to suburban middle-class neighborhoods now feature the familiar site of the paletero.
For the new generation the site of the paletero, the ringing of the bells has become one of those things that will bring back memories much like the ice cream man did for older generations.
The paletero is here to stay and we are all that much better off because of it.