If you happen to be in northeast Minneapolis, standing in the right place at the right time, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a shiny black ice cream truck trundling toward you.
You’ll quickly surmise this is no ordinary ice cream vehicle. Sure, it’s playing that familiar, twinkly little jingle all the other trucks play… but it’s also blaring Lamb of God out the windows. And all those tasty-looking treats emblazoned on the side? Those appear to be heavy metal logos stuck onto popsicle sticks.
And as this devilish black truck approaches, you’ll notice one other thing.
It’s not stopping.
As it zips away, leaving you standing on the sidewalk with your money in your hand, you might catch a glimpse of the driver. His name is Matt Peterson. His truck’s name is Hell General. The only things the truck dispenses are metal music and disappointment.
Peterson says the idea for this demonic contraption came to him after his own Batman villain-esque experience with an evil ice cream man. When he was 10 years old, Peterson says he flagged down a jangly truck, eager to get a cool, creamy treat, and realized he didn’t have any money in his Ninja Turtle swimming trunks. He promised he’d return with the tender and sprinted back to the house to grab some.
By the time he reached his front porch, the ice cream man was pulling away. He pounded on the porch window to try and get him to stop, only to shatter the glass into a billion pieces and cut the dickens out of his wrist.
“I realized one thing at that moment,” Peterson writes on the Hell General website. “The ice cream man was one sick motherfucker.”
As happens in so many good villain backstories, Peterson became the very thing that haunted and maimed him as a child: an evil ice cream man who did not provide ice cream. He got the truck in 2009, spent a couple of years fixing it up, investing and reinvesting in breakdowns and stolen parts. (To this day, he cannot drive when it’s raining, because the windshield wipers are about as good as the ice cream.)
Whenever he gets the itch, he coasts around the neighborhood, delighting passersby... and demolishing their ice cream hopes.
He’s seen wonders. Grown men have tried to foist money into his hand while they -- and Peterson -- drove at 25-mile-an-hour speeds. He smiled and peeled off. Fathers have asked him to explain to their four-year-old kids why they can’t have the popsicle they wanted. Smiling, he refused. He’s seen 12-year-olds watch him drive away, watched their mouths form the words, “What the fuck.”
And it’s made him somewhat of a celebrity in Northeast. Some people think this gambit is the funniest thing they’ve ever heard of.
Others still think he should just pony up and bring a cooler full of frozen goodies sometime.
He has no intention of ever, ever doing this, though he has considered doling out "popsicle sticks... wrapped up in a small package of air."
Even when people get mad, Peterson says he tries to remain friendly. He returns the middle finger with a peace sign. He tells screamers to have a good day. There’s no need to get upset over losing ice cream you never had coming in the first place. And this, he says, is all in good fun. Anyway, that’s what he told them about his rock and roll nativity scene in 2012, which included a Santa Claus hanging from a noose.
He is also, for the record, behind the “I Hate the Pedal Pub” Facebook page, which has united thousands of Minneapolitans who wholeheartedly agree, and generally pissed off pedal pub companies.
If you want to catch a glimpse of Hell General, you can do so at one of the many pop-up art car parades Peterson participates in these days. There’s one on Saturday at 2 p.m., right by St. Charles Borromeo in northeast.
If you want to stay at home and jam to the truck's very own heavy metal playlist, you can find that here.