Follow That Truck

posted by / Blogs, Editorial / March 9, 2011

Have treats, will travel. What if it had, say, Wizard Sleeves?


Roaming food trucks are this mad culinary trend that keeps accelerating as the fare expands (cupcakes, Szechuan, gyros) and as the concept leaks from urban foodie nests into the world at large. It’s very — what’s that word that means they’ll be super unpopular soon? — trendy.

There have always been food trucks, but the term conjures suspect operations with as much grease in the meals as under the hood. The difference now is that entrepreneurs are a) capitalizing on the proliferation of food niches as consumers take a closer look at what they eat and how/where it was grown, and b) using new technology to attract potential customers and retain existing ones.


Here’s an example of how: A sushi truck in Los Angeles drives to the fish auction each morning and buys its ingredients straight off the fishermen’s loading pallet. By lunchtime the truck is roaming the streets of a bustling LA commercial district peopled with cosmopolitan 20-somethings who want a healthy, fresh meal. The truck tweets its real-time location to thousands of tech-savvy followers and catches the eye of those close enough to pay it a visit when noon rolls ‘round.

Suddenly, for those nearby, sushi is an option.

The truck is there now, at this moment; it won’t be tomorrow. Fresh sushi is a rare opportunity on which they’d better pounce, and in considerable numbers, pounce they do. The next day, that sushi truck is miles away, servicing a new neighborhood with its fleeting menu of maki and hand rolls.

Voila: the new generation of food trucks, a perfect blend of three current trends: conscientious consumption (the food and its source), social/mobile media (the marketing), and ironic reimagining of a tired institution (meals on wheels).


Bonus hip points for the converted trailer. Slap a Patagonia logo on there, fill it with biodiesel, and spread the word about wool-lined wetsuits.


More to the point, the surf market mirrors the food market in a number of ways that make the food truck model transferable to surfing:

  1. Surf sessions, like meals, are concentrated around certain times of the day and week: early in the morning (the pre-work dawn patrol), late in the afternoon (after-school and after-work crowds), and weekends before noon. The implication is that a “surf truck” (with board and wetsuit demos, wax samples, hyper-discounted gear, etc.) could target these boom periods to maximize engagement.
  2. Surfers these days are no more uniform a group than diners are; we’re a diverse hodgepodge made up of longboarders, children, fitness buffs, girls, outdoorsmen, punks, hipsters, P.E. classes, and so on. A thousand niches housed beneath a single thin umbrella. A surf truck that offered something specific could find within the masses a small but eager audience. What about a single-fin truck with a rotating quiver of boards to try?
  3. Like the well-heeled young professionals who support food trucks on their lunch hour, surfers are geographically predictable. They congregate around certain specific breaks or stretches of coastline, and their migrations can be largely predicted based on freely available surf and weather forecasts. This means a surf truck could chart its course using the same information that its customers themselves use to plan their sessions, and practically guarantee the presence of customers upon arrival.


This wouldn’t work so well as a direct sales operation (who goes surfing in the mood to buy something?), but it could be a fantastic way to build awareness and a following for certain products or a surf shop. The key would be figuring out what potential customers want from the truck, and then being in the right place at the right time to deliver it. —Stuart Cornuelle


The closest thing to what I’m talking about that currently exists: demo tours from boardmakers and shops like CI, Rusty and Surf Ride, plus Rip Curl with their neoprene line.


Stuart Cornuelle is SURFING’s Managing Editor and a would like to see a …Lost RNF truck — for when one’s choice of board was too optimistic.




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  • sam

    brilliant. the only thing lacking from surfs these days is a big crowd and stuff to buy.

  • Sven

    This just made me hungry. When I surf, I don’t need wax or boardies, just food and coffee afterwards. They already got that. Don’t delivery more consumerism to the beach.

  • yeah guy

    so… in order to be a managing editor at Surfing Magazine (is that even a paid position?), all you have to do is explain a concept or idea as your own and then at the end of the story post a photo of a company doing the exact same thing you spent a few hundreds words describing and say the closest thing to your idea is their idea? The CI truck is doing the exact same thing you described.

    If this is what it takes… where do i apply? Here’s an idea… why don’t make one of us crap talking, no face/no name online commentators a guest editor on an issue and then lets see the feedback paying public. Surfer is trying it with their “writing contest” and that was a joke (how much of a waste was that winning piece?). Don’t send us on a mexico trip with some d-list surf stars, stick us behind the wheel of an issue… then pack your bags and update your resumes or tell us to go pound sand.

    hell… you can even claim this idea has a Surfing Magazine original.

  • dgb

    Can’t wait for the day I can tweet for some new surf gear and have some Quikdeliver dude meet me in the lineup and swipe the bar code in my bar-coda boardies and hand over my order. Surfing will be a much better experience. I’m thinking of renting out the space on the back of my feet to surfing advertisers … such a waste of ad space.

  • Claude

    LA food trucks are effing rad. Anytime I’m in the mood for a curried hamachi bacon taco n’ chips, I just hit up Twitter for their locale (aka “Venice”), bob n’ weave through 9 miles of traffic, find parking, then simply wait in line behind seventeen iPhoning dudes in skinny jeans, place my order to a guy who says “artisinal” and “locovore,” pay $14 (unless I want a soda), wait 15 minutes (check e-mails, Angry Birds, etc.), then eat it!!!!

    I have all but abandoned “brick n’ mortar” restaurants, what with their tired “doors” and “tables” and “bathrooms.”

  • Dandelion Alfredo

    @Claude, like.

  • Peter

    Let’s just focus on the wavepools for now guys…until there is more ridable waves(wavepools) let us keep the marketing techniques down to a “necessary evil” minimum.

  • What a joke

    Back massages and benchongs. Can’t wait!!

  • Blake

    Check out Dawn Patrol Truck…its what you describe here!