The innovative youth-business program is seeing its share of ups and downs.

What’s the deal with those ridiculously large ice cream cones?

Educational business project for youth seeing its ups and downs

If science tells us ice cream makes us happy, then it must be true that more ice cream makes us more happy.

Hold that thought.

The science of ice cream is not rocket science for the young entrepreneur running an ice cream truck called Frozen North in Smithers. Bradley Wellington is scooping out extra big helpings of ice cream as a marketing tactic.

“We thought this would be a great way to draw business,” he said.

The ice cream truck was built in a partnership between the Smithers Chamber of Commerce and Northwest Community College as an opportunity for high school students to learn the ups and downs of running a small business.

Three students, including Wellington, won their bid to participate in the program, but as the summer droned on those scooping the ice cream were apparently not as happy as their customers.

“There are always challenges,” said Heather Gallagher, Chamber of Commerce manager. Especially when Wellington’s two partners have called it quits, leaving him to manage the business on his own.

“There is a lot to learn about business and partnerships and relationships,” said Gallagher. “We have been lending some support to him with our staff. I just hope this won’t affect other students wanting to participate in this program in the future.”

Despite the challenges, business seems good for Frozen North. The ice cream truck is parked at Central Park four days a week, at Bugwood Bean three days a week, and at Bovill Square on Friday nights. And the customers are loving it.

“Between the number of flavours we carry and the amount of ice cream we are going through, it meant we needed an extra freezer,” said Wellington.

In addition to large helpings he has partnered with Bugwood Bean to offer affogato, a shot of espresso over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. Other offerings include lactose-free ice cream and chocolate syrup and sprinkles.

Gallagher feels the Frozen North is having a positive impact on the community.

“Since the ice cream parlour has been parked over there in Central Park, people get their ice cream cone, they wander over to a picnic table, or gather under the shade of the railcar, and pretty soon there’s a whole new vibrancy in the area,” she said. “I am also seeing more people wander around the square on Friday nights (when the truck is parked at Bovill Square during Lawn Chair Lounge events).

“It attracts people. It has created a new vibrancy and walkability on Main Street.  What we’re seeing is that it doesn’t really interfere with the existing businesses so much as it creates a new draw.”

And perhaps it is spreading happiness in the form of ice cream. A 2010 study at the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences in London England looked for scientific evidence that “ice cream makes you happy”. What they found was that “…eating ice cream activates the part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), which indicates the positive emotional pleasure and reward value of ice cream.”

The ice cream truck will operate until the first week in September, and then it will be stored until the program is renewed next summer with a new group of students.

“We certainly want to continue on an annual basis,” said Gallagher. “I know other schools are interested, and the parameters of the program means that perhaps northwest community college students can get involved next year.”