The Luau Wheelbarrow Ice Bar – A Mid-Century Party Test

Posted on Sep 12 2017 - 6:01am by RetroRuth

Just in case you needed one last fix for Luau week – I decided to spend most of my weekend chopping fruit.


This is the Wheelbarrow Ice Bar!

Wheelbarrow Ice Bar How To Become A Cookout Champion, 1959

This lovely is from How To Become A Cookout Champion, which was published in 1959. This cute book was put together as a contest cookbook for several companies, like Squirt, Kaiser Foil and a few others. It is full of “Bar-B-Tricks” that you can use for your next cookout, and this Wheelbarrow Ice Bar was one of them.

And I became obsessed with it.


Luckily I have others in my life who are either just as obsessed or put up with my obsession and are willing to help me recreate madness. Thanks to Carolyn (of the Aspic Aquarium) for bringing over her kids and sacrificing most of her Saturday, and Tom, of course.

Because he can never get away.


Here we are mid-carve. Things weren’t actually that hard, it was just a lot of chopping and such.

If you are curious, all the fruit, bottled soda, ice cream and ice ran just under $100, if you are wanting to recreate this for your next cookout. We already had a fun blue wheelbarrow on hand.


Carefully splitting.


It’s pineapple time!


Lots and lots and lots of ice.

Alex immediately wanted to jump into it and play. Good thing I bleached the heck out of it before filling it with ice.


Tom decided that it would look better tipped up, so we had to do some strategic ice piling.



When it was done, I actually was pretty pleased. It was a good idea for an unusual drink cooler. The sodas and things were probably the best idea. Of course, the ice cream immediately started melting and the fruit was attacked by bugs, so maybe not the best idea for food service. But drinks, very yes. I would honestly park this thing in the kitchen if you have the room. It would be hilariously fun and actually did look very retro. I really liked the look of it all put together.


Overall it was pretty magical. But here was the best part:


Alex and Carolyn’s kids just loved it. We managed to eat a good portion of the ice cream and sherbet before it melted or was eaten by yellow jackets. And now Carolyn and I have fridges full of chopped fruit. So not too bad.

So, what do you guys think? Are you going to try the Wheelbarrow Ice Bar?

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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15 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Carolyn September 12, 2017 at 9:05 am - Reply

    This looks awesome!

    • RetroRuth September 12, 2017 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      It does, doesn’t it. 😉

  2. Camille September 12, 2017 at 9:53 am - Reply

    That is completely fabulous. I wish I had a wheelbarrow.

    • RetroRuth September 12, 2017 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Thank you! It was totally worth it!

  3. Angela September 12, 2017 at 11:15 am - Reply

    That came out amazing!

    • RetroRuth September 12, 2017 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      It did! It was so pretty!

  4. Lassie September 12, 2017 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Lovely! Just Lovely! I have SO much enjoyed your Hawaiian week. It’s been a lifelong dream to go to Hawaii, and there was a little fast-foodish restaurant here with Hawaiian foods, alas, already gone….You people seem to have such fun! 😀

    • RetroRuth September 12, 2017 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      I am so glad you enjoyed Hawaiian week!!!! It is a lot of work doing the themed weeks, but it is sure fun.

      And yeah, I guess we do have a lot of fun. 🙂

  5. Kerry September 12, 2017 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    I love the look of this! The colors are Techniscope!

    • RetroRuth September 12, 2017 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Kerry!

  6. Lisa B. September 12, 2017 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    Puree some of that fruit, mix it with wine, and stick it in the freezer. Just a hint…

    • Carolyn September 13, 2017 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      We were going to puree with yogurt, you know, for the kids, but YOUR suggestion……… 🙂

  7. Stephanie September 13, 2017 at 10:26 am - Reply

    I’m so impressed! You got all of the elements right and made a perfect luau wheelbarrow. What fun!

  8. Sean September 13, 2017 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Love this! I have seen child sized wheelbarrows that would fit on a table inside and recreate it on a smaller scale..

  9. Marty September 15, 2017 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    I guess I’m really old because the wheelbarrow full of ice and food/drinks was a backyard summer staple of family get-togethers. Maybe I’m not old — I’m just RETRO! 😉

    You guys did a fabulous job! It looks very professional! 🙂

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