The Pink Food Truck(s)
Food trucks are by no means a new concept but this truck, with its pink and cute design, offers desserts, as well as merchandise ranging from thermoses, to hair bows and t-shirts.
There are now two of these pink trucks which travel across the east and west coast, selling adorable merchandise and sweets featuring Hello Kitty. Hundreds of people flock over, waiting in line, sometimes for hours, due to their love of not only Hello Kitty, but also sugary treats and exclusive items.
Many Sanrio stores have closed down in the east coast, making it difficult to get merchandise directly from the company’s flagship stores. Among the closed stores are the Manhattan location and several storefronts throughout New Jersey malls.
The trucks began to make their stops at malls in New Jersey a years back, though I was unable to make it to one of the truck’s local visits until recently. I was excited to have the opportunity to go to a Sanrio event, and get the chance to pick up some cute items.
Cute, but Pricey.
Some of the items are a bit on the expensive side, although the prices vary from a few dollars or so depending on the truck’s stops. But I was a tad surprised to find out that a pack of five pre-packaged macarons were about $16, (about $3 per macaron,) and a single large cookie is typically goes for about $12. I have heard mixed reviews on the desserts through users on Yelp. Some folks love the food, while others dislike the food. I personally felt neutral about the food I tried. In a future blog post, I’ll discuss the popcorn I tasted for from the truck!
Prices of items aside, I wanted to experience this event. I was advised to budget myself for the truck and limited myself to spending $25. I planned to get the cafe’s metal lunch box (that contained confetti popcorn), and a bow shaped water bottle. Plans did change a bit as we approached the truck and I did go just a few dollars above my budget.
I’ve been curious to find out about the hype, why hundreds of people went to line up for this food truck. But I also grew tp understand the hype and felt excited to be around other fans. I feel that a big part of the excitement over this truck is because the items are exclusive to the Hello Kitty Cafe.
Before discussing my experience, I also want to mention that there are also several scalpers on eBay. Scalpers are people who sell items for significantly more than their original price in order to make a profit. I came across a user who was trying to sell a $7 keychain for $20 and another user who was trying to sell a plush for a whopping $40. The worst incident of scalping I came across was also on eBay, where one of the truck’s thermoses was being sold for $70. I am unsure if Sanrio is aware of scalpers. Limiting quantities for purchases might help deter people from scalping in the future.
The Experience..and Wait.
It was a rainy morning and at times, it poured! I thought the weather would draw out less of a crowd, but the amount of attendees actually increased when I checked on the official Facebook event page the morning of. Roughly five-hundred people planned on attending.
Despite the rain, there was a huge turnout. Although we originally planned on getting there a bit earlier, the weather did hold us back and we arrived almost right during the truck’s opening. The truck parked inside of the indoor parking lot by the Jersey Strong entrance. This was a big plus and a great choice of location, as we did not have to worry about using our umbrellas.
Most of the experience at the truck was waiting for our turn to make our purchases. Some people brought chairs, and it puzzled me as to why, until a few hours passed while we waited in line.
We waited for a total of about four hours.
There were a couple of signs which featured the products as we went farther up in line. I noticed that the cushions were a rather popular item for this event and saw many people go back to their cars with at least one in hand.
The people running the truck did have a good system which helped customers waiting in line find out about sold out items. Tape with the words ‘sold out’ was on the back of the sign, and employees switched out the tape in the front and put them on top of prices for corresponding items.
Drawbacks/Cons of Food Truck:
Getting tickets..? :
There was an additional ticketing system for certain items such as shirts, but this was not made clear. A sign may have helped speed up the process a bit and avoid confusion during the truck’s future stops.
My friend and I did not know about this system, and I was confused as to where to go to pick up my item after receiving a ticket. There was a slight mishap due to some confusion.
My friend wanted to buy a t-shirt for the truck. She went to the second window and was told that she needed to go to the previous one to get her ticket, and was asked to go back in line after standing in line for four hours. The staff member told her that the line wasn’t as long. However, we looked at the line ourselves and knew it would be at least a several-hour wait. My friend wasn’t too happy about hearing this, though because we were in a group, she went back to the previous window and was able to get a ticket for her shirt. I did not like the way the staff member in the second window handled this issue, though the staff member in the first window was very understanding.
More on the Long Wait/Lack of Cashiers:
Many people in line waited at least an hour and a half. The people in my general area, including the people in my group, waited since ten in the morning and didn’t get to the front until two in the afternoon. When I went to the front of the truck, I saw that only two staff members were there taking transactions. Even one additional cashier/staff member could have sped up the waiting time.
What I loved About The Truck:
High Quality Products:
The merchandise, which I will talk about just in a bit more detail in a future post, is high quality. I purchased one of the shirts and my mother bought me an adorable metal lunch box tin with popcorn. I plan on keeping the tin for storage.
Although my experience at the truck was a bit mixed, getting the opportunity to get exclusive merchandise of one of my favorite characters growing up did make it worthwhile. I like the concept of this truck and am glad it has been successful around the east and west coast.
About The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck
The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck launched in 2014 at Hello Kitty Con in, according to the official Sanrio website, and now there are three physical cafes in California.
Although the cafe truck has a limited menu in comparison to the main California cafes, the menu has expanded during the five year run, with sweets ranging from cookies to macarons, and small cakes.