Like all good things, or even vaguely mediocre things, the Food Network ruined the novelty of ordering overpriced tacos from a stationary vehicle, and now the 2010’s phenomenon known as the ‘food truck’ is officially dead. We have reached “peak food truck.” R.I.P., 2010–2014.
According to multiple reports, the “hip” and “trendy” industry of mobile restauranteur-ing is officially out of gas, citing problems like bad weather, parking regulations, competition for certain locations, difficulties getting permits and financial troubles. And apparently, the slow death of the food truck has been underway for some time: Crain’s reports that the number of licenses distributed to high-end artisanal truck vendors (as opposed to, say, Mister Softee) by the Department of Health has remained roughly the same for the past few years, at 100.
Many food truck owners are turning to brick-and-mortar restaurants—Mexicue and Wafels & Dinges, to name a few—or wholesale distribution (like Coolhaus) in response to the increased risk that has followed the food truck industry. “I would not recommend getting into the food-truck business unless you have a bigger plan—starting a restaurant or a consumer-product line,” Chief Executive of Coolhaus Natasha Case told Crain’s.
But besides economic woes and the unfortunate popularity of the Food Network television show The Great Food Truck Race, which debuted in 2010, let’s take a look at what other cultural circumstances contributed to the demise of food truck-dom:
2011 – The Food Network’s sister, the Cooking Channel, premieres Eat St., in which comedian James Cunningham is filmed looking for and consuming food, but only if it comes out of a truck.
2011 – The ABC sitcom Happy Endings features “cool guy” Zachary Knighton as an “aspiring food truck owner” because he’s just been left at the altar.
2012 – Among Think Like A Man‘s several million plot lines is Michael Eely proving that he is worthy of Taraji P. Henson’s love by starting a food truck.
2012 – Ditto with Jason Segal in The Five-Year Engagement; Sad Guys Starting Food Trucks is now officially a rom-com meme, comparable to Sad Women Starting Bakeries.
2014 – Jon Favreau debuts Chef at SXSW, which fetishizes food-truck–as–means-for-which-unfulfilled-restaurant-chef-rediscovers-self.
And the final nail in the truck-sized coffin:
2014 – Royal Caribbean introduces food trucks on their cruise ships, or one method of transportation with food in it ON TOP OF ANOTHER ONE.
Good-bye, Food Truck. You will be missed.
Follow Rebecca Jennings on Twitter @rebexxxxa