2014 Is The Year The Food Truck Died. What Killed It?

2014: The Year the Food Truck Died

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

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  1. Also this was a plot line on the BET tv show The Game. Malik’s best friend Tee Tee has a fried chicken truck (the Cluck Truck) and he serves salmonella chicken and gets sued and his life is ruined.

  2. another sign that this has reached the level of crapdom is the fact that Disney world has these fast food reaturaunts that are dressed up like food trucks to sell the exact same dishes that are already in the parks.
    When Disney thinks something is ready to rip off you know it is past it’s prime.

  3. I think what most of the artisan food truck scene has forgotten to realize is that food truck mostly are run by people in their late 50s and 60s trying to supplement their retirement.

    Once the fad wears off the only thing to do is become a traditional restaurant if you specialize in niche food.

    SO….just no….food trucks aren’t dying….the fad has.

  4. The majority of people who ran food trucks before the fad were middle aged to 60 year olds supplementing their retirement.

    Food trucks haven’t died….the fad did. Those with decent niche food will do just well in brick and mortal stores.

  5. I’ve been spending my weekends telling people lining up for these trucks at Prospect Park that the food truck craze is over but they won’t listen. Thanks for writing this article, so I can show them the damning evidence of a few tv show appearances, a food network show, and some of the more successful ones moving into brick and mortar locations as to why they need to move on.

  6. what about the food truck guy (Criss Chross) that dated Liz Lemon on 30 Rock (since 2012 I believe) – he had an organic gourmet hot dog truck