Whose side are you on? Are you a stone-cold originator, or some sugary carpetbagging poseur? Would you like sprinkles with that, or might a tasty chocolate dip be more to your liking? Are you in or are you out? Sugar cone or waffle? Most importantly: Mister Softee or New York Ice Cream?
Friends, there is a war on for your ice cream truck patronage. The New York Times has the wonderful story of the Mister Softee’s war against an upstart led by former Softee drivers that is allegedly encroaching on the ubiquitous peddler’s territory in Midtown.
Ice cream sellers must obtain permits to legally sell within the city, but those permits don’t restrict them to any particular area. In other words, the only law in these streets is the law of the chocolate and vanilla men, and these men are icy cold indeed. A New York Ice Cream seller talked to the Times about his tactics, which include intimidating Softee men and boxing in their trucks so they can’t move:
“From 34th to 60th Street, river to river, that’s ours,” he said on a recent afternoon, moments after handing a chocolate cone to a delighted-looking little boy. The vendor would not allow his name to be published for fear of losing his job.
“You will never see a Mister Softee truck in Midtown,” he continued. “If you do, there will be problems, and you won’t see him there very long.”
Nothing sweet on the Softee side, either:
“Let me tell you about this business,” Adam Vega, a thickly muscled, heavily tattooed Mister Softee man who works the upper reaches of the Upper East Side and East Harlem, said on Wednesday. “Every truck has a bat inside.”
Mr. Vega, 41, said that if he comes across a rival on his route, “I jump out and say, ‘Listen young man, this is my route, you gotta get out of there.’”
NYC cone heads may remember New York Ice Cream as the former Master Softee, a Softee clone that caused a big shakeup on the cream scene back in 2014. After a court action brought by the original Mister Softee, they’ve changed their name, but the bad blood evidently still runs like strawberry syrup.
Unforgiving times here in fun city. Don’t get caught on the wrong side of the moose tracks.