Monday, June 21, 2010

Speak Softee and Carry a Chocolate Milk Shake

Today being the summer solstice and official start of summertime, I thought I’d put in a few good words for the venerable Mister Softee. One of the Mister Softee franchisees traverses my block on a daily basis these days. In fact, he’s merely yards away from my front door virtually every evening between 7:30 and 8:30. And while the Mister Softee jingle can be extraordinarily grating to one’s ears—it travels very, very long distances, too, without losing its annoying quality—the ice cream has held up rather well in this less for more society that we live in.

As a boy growing up in the Bronx’s Kingsbridge neighborhood, the ice cream man was the man—notably the Good Humor guy, who would materialize like clockwork every summer night, manually ring his bells, and chum for business. No musical theme from this more budget-friendly brand. In fact, there were multiple ice cream peddlers roaming the Bronx back in the day, including Mister Softee, Bungalow Bar, Colonial Maid, and Uncle John’s. I distinctly remember the Uncle John’s driver: an old geezer and dead ringer for a classic New York character actor named Herbie Faye.

The beauty surrounding Mister Softee is that the company's fleet of trucks are the same style vehicles from thirty and forty years ago. However, when the Good Humor man showed up in those days of yore, you could purchase a whammy stick for a nickel, a rocket pop for a dime, or an Italian ice for twenty cents. These days, I plunk down $4.00 for a chocolate milk shake with a calorie count of 450 (or so Mister Softee's chart tells me).

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