It was the first Friday of the month and Abbot Kinney was flooded with food trucks of varieties that even my imagination had a hard time keeping up with: grilled cheese, ice cream sandwiches, lobster rolls, crepes, asian fusion tacos, dim sum, the list went on. Food trucks that might have started out as a way to test the waters, to see if customers were even interested in their product, were now flooding the streets of Venice Beach. First Friday and similar food truck festivals have now become institutions in cities across the nation, attracting hundreds of trucks and thousands of people .
Having lived in Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, and Washington, D.C., I have grown accustomed to a vibrant food truck market to explore in whatever city I found myself living in. When I moved to South Bend, however, there was a surprising lack of a food truck scene. For a city that boasted all of the amenities of a larger city, South Bend failed to deliver to my lunchtime cravings of chicken tikka masala or pulled pork sandwiches from a truck. Putting the slim pickings for international food in Indiana aside, I was really curious why food trucks didn’t seem to thrive in South Bend like they have in the other cities I have lived in. It turns out, in order to scratch the surface of the problem, I had to dive deeper into the history of food trucks and into the history of South Bend.
In this series on food trucks, we’ll explore the history of street food, food trucks, how they grew in the United States, and where South Bend fits into the mobile food truck landscape today.