At concerts, parks, and between lunch breaks, no city is complete without them. We’ve reached a golden age of food trucks. Ted Scheffler of the Salt Lake City Weekly reckons there are at least 16 food trucks operating around the Wasatch Front, a modest estimate from over three years ago. We’re guessing it’s somewhere over a hundred today.

According to John T. Edge, author of Truck Food Cookbook, a used food truck can be bought for as little as $10,000, making this industry an accessible alternative to a city’s cutthroat restaurant business. But because these miniature food joints are mobile, it is essential for the trucks to promote effectively on social media so customers can follow their whereabouts. And before a food truck has built a following, it relies on attracting new patrons with good looks and charm. In the food truck business, first impressions are everything. A successful food truck starts with a unique, delicious menu, but with so much competition, appearance plays a large role. Popularity relies on word-of-mouth, and a truck’s paint job becomes a beacon. If there are three Korean barbecue trucks around the same block radius with relatively similar prices, how do you choose? It’s only human to lean towards the one with the wildest design. And so the food cart wars begin.

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Utah’s first food truck, Chow boasts “haute Asian cuisine on the go!” with enticing items such as elk sliders, calamari, and spiced root chips. The truck is bright school bus yellow with a striking dragon logo, a look sported since its inception in 2010. Today, Chow’s food truck is well-known and recognizable from blocks away.

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Freestyle Mongolian Grill opened in Salt Lake just this past year, founded as a Kickstarter project by passionate foodie Nick Ferrin. The truck is a bold sight to see. Every inch of its black exterior is graffitied with vibrant colors and a sign rising above the roof of the truck.

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Photo by Freestyle Foodie

Fat Kid Mac N Cheese shows cheese melting from the roof of the truck, and a glowing 50’s-meets-futuristic logo over a washed-out cityscape.

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Every Thursday, you can check out a spectrum of Salt Lake’s favorite food trucks on Gallivan Avenue.  And when you see each of them side-by-side, you can truly tell how much creativity goes into these locomotive lunch spots.

Being big fans of food in general, we would never pass up our own opportunity to redesign a food truck, and were excited to be approached by the charming Chicago Beef spot, Cubby’s. This humble lunch and dinner gem offers a variety of signature sandwiches and salads crafted with only local, organic ingredients. We wanted to create a look for Cubby’s that stood out from other food trucks and fused their fun, friendly personality with their love of fresh food.

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Photo by Cubby’s

We hand drew over a hundred different cartoon food characters, from turnips to burgers to avocados, surrounding phrases that highlighted the menu’s healthy qualities like “no sugar in our dressings” and “freshly made from scratch.” Each figure danced, smiled, and jumped over every inch of the truck in a creative collage that looked eye-catching from afar and delighted with detail up-close.

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Catch a glimpse of it on a curb near you by keeping updated on their Instagram. Salt Lake is rising in its food truck population, and for newly emerging spots, it’s critical to stand out against the colorful crowd of competitors. And for us passing by, it adds a few more pieces of art to the streets.