Pop Culture

The Hess Truck's Back!

The Hess Truck's back and it's better than ever...Christmas is here, the Hess Truck's back!

It is way too early to be thinking about the holiday season (sorry, Houston Ballet Nutcracker commercials), but something recently stumbled across my e-mail that catapulted my brain into the holiday season, but the holiday season circa 1988. The Hess Toy Truck is now available online.

Sadly, the Hess Toy Truck is not a beloved Houston tradition because H-town doesn't have Hess stations; the closest one is in Florida. Based on the proximity issue, you may be wondering what in the world a Hess Toy Truck even is. To put it plainly, it's a toy truck with a Hess logo. But the Hess Truck is so much more than that. To the East Coaster, the Hess Truck is Christmas.

For roughly five decades, Hess has been releasing delightful model-sized versions of its familiar oil tanker. As the story goes, old man Hess hooked up with a toy manufacturer at a Jets game and maybe the beer was flowing that day because the two men decided to create a mini version of the Hess tanker. From then on, each year around the holidays Hess released another slightly different version of the toy. Later, they added in Hess fire trucks and Hess cop cars and Hess helicopters, among other Hess-branded vehicles. As the years went on, they also added in car sounds, flashing lights and lots of pizzazz.

Now is about the time you may be asking yourself, who cares? This is an excellent question that I do not have the answer to. I will share this, though. I had a friend in middle school whose dad (or maybe stepdad) collected these things and it was a huge deal to him. They had a room in their house dedicated to this guy's collection of Hess Toy Trucks, and my friend would disclose stories of her and her mom driving to Hess stations all over to get them because allegedly these trucks were in high demand. The Hess Truck room was like the forbidden fruit to two 12-year-olds, and we sneaked in once or twice when no one was home. This room also housed her dad's liquor, but we were more interested in making Hess trucks whirr while we had the opportunity. In retrospect, we should have gone for the Schnapps.

Now is the time you may be asking yourself, why in the hell would anyone collect these things? I don't know. Why does anyone collect anything? The value of these trucks varies. If you happen to have an original 1964 model it is worth roughly $2,500, and from there the selling price drops considerably. You can find some 1980s versions on eBay for 30 or so bucks.

On November 1, Hess will unveil its 2012 model, no doubt in an attempt to one-up last year's flatbed truck and sports car combo. Regardless, the Hess Truck will always have a place in my heart for its unforgettable jingle, which has been stuck in my head for over 20 years.

The commercial hasn't changed since then, apparently...

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig