So, Who Gets a Food Truck?

Why are food trucks so popular? If you’re in a city with a tonne of them, you’re probably eating a Korean barbecue taco right now, saying “They make delicious food, duh!” Of course, you could just as easily be at home, watching Eat Street, saying to yourself, “But I love delicious food too! Why the hell can’t we have food trucks in Markham?!”

Well, it turns out there are more than a few factors that will predict whether your city has a healthy food truck population or not. Researchers are presenting a paper at the 109th meeting of the American Sociological Association describing them. Fortunately for food truck researchers, they’re an easy subject to study, since basically all of them are online and use Twitter. Researchers found that there are more than 4,000 food trucks in US cities with more than 100,000 people. Which got a bigger share of the food truck bounty? Well:

  • High rental costs equal more food trucks, which supports the idea that chefs want a cheaper alternative to a brick and mortar.
  • Weather isn’t really a factor on food truck density. Extreme temperatures don’t have an effect, either, though precipitation is positively associated with new food trucks. Although, and this is my favourite sentence in the whole damn study, “this effect drops out of significance if Portland, Oregon is removed.”
  • Cities with greater percentages of college graduates get more trucks.
  • So do cities with more creative workers and more racially diverse populations.
  • Craft breweries and farmer’s markets are positively associated with food trucks.
  • Fast food and chain restaurants are negatively associated with food trucks.

One major drawback of the study is that they didn’t take into account local laws regarding food trucks—although, since it’s a US study, maybe it was unnecessary. All we know is that craft brewin’, chain restaurant hatin’, racially diverse Toronto doesn’t have that many food trucks thanks to the stupid city council, and Hamilton is enjoying its newfound hipster cred.

Photo courtesy of Fuzzy Traveler

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