North Wildwood Fudgy Wudgy man retires after 50 years

NORTH WILDWOOD, NJ (WPVI) — “All the boys who are in North Wildwood right now can tell you the same story,” said Joseph Duncan. “You walk down the beach and you see people who have known you for 30 years or 40 years or in my case 50 years and their grandkids are eating my ice cream now.”

Duncan, originally from Southwest Philadelphia, fell in love with North Wildwood as a teenager. The United States Marine Corps veteran decided to move permanently to the town of Jersey Shore, where he would meet his wife and become a “fudgy wudgy” man.

“When I first heard about this job, I was told that if you live here and you’re a veteran, you’re eligible to apply for one of these licenses,” he said. “And that appealed to me because I always thought it was a cool job.”

It wasn’t just cool because of the ice cream. Over the years, Duncan, better known as “Unk Dunk”, found something more valuable than dollars on the beach.

“I’ve found a lot of joy in being out here and meeting people and talking to them,” he said.

It was a perfect summer gig for the now-retired schoolteacher. In fact, not even a recent heart attack would stop him from ending his 50th and final year selling ice cream on the beach.

“We’re all glad the city allowed us to be here,” Duncan said. “And we hope they continue to allow veterans to come in and replace us.”

Beachgoers between 17th and 20th Streets in North Wildwood also rejoiced to see Unk Dunk pushing the ice cream truck today.

“Hearing that voice really brings back everyone’s childhood memories,” said Mary Ellen Shaw, who has been coming to the beach since the early 1970s.

Others hope North Wildwood will continue the tradition after the few remaining veterans have retired.

“I really appreciate that the vets are doing this. I hope they stick with it,” said resident Mike Coady. “North Wildwood deserves them and they deserve North Wildwood.”

Joseph Duncan will officially hang up his “Unk Dunk” shirt next Labor Day. He is looking forward to moving to Florida with his wife so they can be closer to his two sons.

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