It’s shortly before lunchtime, and the Wingzza food truck rolls up and parks in its normal Friday spot at a sprawling office complex. Employees from the various offices begin trotting out, company ID badges hanging from lanyards around their necks. By noon, a long line has formed, and over the next two-and-a-half hours, the Wingzza crew shells out hundreds of their signature wings (which come in a dozen different flavors). Wingzza also offers wings in the form of chicken wraps, and they even have wings on pizza slices.
This is a typical summer afternoon in Charlotte, and as warm as the sunshine is for patrons—who place their orders and wait in the shade of nearby trees until their names are called—you can tack on another 20 degrees for the four-person crew inside the Wingzza truck. One person takes the orders, two prepare the food, and the fourth bags the to-go boxes and hands them out the window.
When the Wingzaa staff is done here, they’ll have less than three hours to clean and restock the truck and make their way to a summer food-truck rally taking place on a historic farm site about 30 minutes away. There, 23 food trucks are setting up shop for the special event.
This is common in cities around the country, as summer is peak season for food trucks (they’re very popular in the fall too), serving everything from tacos to burgers, from barbecue (Southern and Korean) to salads, from popsicles to cupcakes.
Among the leading cities for food truck culture are Austin (East Side King food truck), San Francisco (The Chairman Truck), Miami (gastroPod), Atlanta (King of Pops), Denver (Quiero Arepas), and Washington, D.C. (Hula Girl Truck). Not to mention Los Angeles, which has the most food trucks, and Orlando, which, surprisingly, has the most per capita, according to food-truck info hub Roaming Hunger. And of course, if a food truck can make it in New York, it can make it anywhere.
The growing number of food trucks can be attributed to many things—lower startup costs, loosened regulations—including one factor you might not have considered: social media. Because food trucks are, essentially, takeout joints on wheels, most operators make heavy use of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to keep their loyal followings up to date on where the trucks will be parked at any given time of day. They dish out lunch, dinner, and late-night meals (and some even keep breakfast hours). And when the task doesn’t call for a food truck, look for the food cart (sort of like its little brother when it comes to mobile cuisine) to keep your palate pleased.
Jarvis Holliday is a freelance writer, media consultant, and identical twin based in Charlotte, N.C. Follow him on Twitter at @HollidayInk.