Whether it’s a Hog on a Log or sweets on a stick, Idahoans just can’t get enough street food.
Food trucks have been popping up all across Southeast Idaho lately.
“We’ve always had a few around, but it’s becoming more of the thing people want to get into: traveling around and making food out of a truck,” said Steve Pew, the environmental health director for the Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department.
In Bannock County alone, 10 food trucks have opened their windows to the public in 2019, according to records obtained from the health department.
Seven more food trucks opened in the counties of Bear Lake, Caribou, Power and Bingham.
From Bingham County, the popular Blackhawk BBQ Pit was born.
“I love being out here, talking to the customers. I work in the back, chopping up meat all the time and handing it to customers, and I truly love that,” said Nic Transtrum, the head pit-master at Blackhawk BBQ Pit.
After toying with the idea for years, Transtrum finally decided it was time to open a BBQ joint. It took six months of planning and prep work before Blackhawk BBQ Pit opened in July.
Only a few months later, the food truck has more than 2,500 likes on Facebook.
“We get requests almost daily from different businesses that are like, ‘Please, come set up where we’re at, because we want you to help draw a crowd,'” Transtrum said.
There are many reasons why food trucks seem to be Southeast Idaho’s latest fad. A Forbes article attributes the nationwide boom to the 2008 recession.
It could also be that it’s easier than opening a restaurant.
“It could be simple with a brick-and-mortar, but this is also very simple. I mean we did it in six months,” Transtrum said.
Changing perceptions of food trucks may have contributed to the meteoric rise, too.
“There’s kind of been a bad stigma in the past, so I think a lot of people are realizing that some great food comes off of a food truck,” Transtrum said.
But Pew said food trucks have to meet the same requirements as a restaurant. They’re inspected just as regularly and require all the same licenses and certifications.
The difference is that food on wheels means a wider range of customers. No matter where in the Snake River Valley the Blackhawk BBQ Pit team goes, they sell out almost every time.
“Every time I hand someone a War Hawk sandwich or something good, a Hog on a Log, a bunch of pulled pork or some ribs, and I see the smile on their face, it just never gets old,” Transtrum said.