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The Food Truck: A Photographic Retrospective

With food trucks parked on the streets of every major city, serving up menu items from coffee to snail lollipops and everything in between, actual restaurants have started almost seem passé. But like so many trends, the food truck is actually a thing of the past, as well. Nineteenth-century ur-food trucks may not have sold their wares out of metal pigs or featured menus devoted entirely to egg salad, but they do date back to the chuckwagons of the 1860s, invented by a smart Texas ranger named Charles Goodnight who realized that putting a kitchen on wheels could solve a lot of people’s problems. Below the jump, we take you through a tour of the early history of the food truck.

A chuckwagon parked in Wyoming’s Roundup Camp in the 1880s.

Lunch wagon in New York’s Herald Square, 1908.

The Shoe Bar chuckwagon in Texas, 1912.

Street vendors crowding the sidewalk, 1910s.

Carry’s Ice Cream Truck in Washington, DC, 1920.

1921 Los Angeles fruit vendor. [via LA Times]

Lunch truck in 1920s Chicago.

This 1930s truck was owned by a grocer who also sold vegetables out of the vehicle.

If only New York’s modern-day waffle truck were horse-drawn like this waffle truck in 1940s New Orleans.

A Good Humor ice cream truck co-stars with an oversized dog in this awkward family photo, 1950s.

Peanut and popcorn truck at the Orange County Fairgrounds, 1951.

Hot dog truck, circa 1960.

A 1977 Mexican food vendor busted by the police for violating new ordinances controlling the sale of street food. [via Nicolas Wilson]

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