A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
By Nina Pajak
Sound is evocative. It can drive us to feel things—so many things!—like affection, nostalgia, sadness, and hunger.
Hunger, you say? Music may make you think of a country or a city or a particular restaurant where you ate something delicious, maybe. But it’s pretty much the other four senses that take the bulk of the credit for making you want to eat spaghetti by the fistfuls. Except, have you never heard the siren song of the Mister Softee truck?
It’s purely Pavlovian. I hear those happy little deedle doodle dee chimes and it’s like I’m a little kid, pushing and shoving and falling all over myself to get to the curb. I MUST HAVE A MILKSHAKE. Recently, I was at the park with my daughter when I heard the jingle and had to restrain from yanking her out of the swing to buy myself a treat. I listened in as two kids begged their mother for money for cones. When she explained to them that the answer was no because they’d be having dinner soon, I found myself nodding in disappointment and telling myself that yeah, she was right but dang it. Stupid dinner. Who wants stupid dinner anyway? It’s probably stupid chicken like always and I hate dinner and when I grow up I’m going to eat ice cream before and for dinner every night and I CAN’T WAIT.
Except that like everything these days, even Mister Softee isn’t who you think he is.
It turns out there’s been an imposter driving around town. There’s a guy who has a pack of ice cream trucks prowling the boroughs, painted to look deceptively like the decades-old favorite. His company’s name? Master Softee. The photographs from The Daily News are all too real. And the trucks are quite convincing. I’m certain I’ve patronized them without realizing it.
“Master” Softee? What is this garbage? How did I not know? How could I not have noticed?
The “Master” is a former franchisee who has been sanctioned by the courts and told to cease and desist infringing all over the damn place, but has so far failed to recall his demon fleet from the streets. His vendors continue to dole out lies covered in rainbow sprinkles covered in more lies to the unsuspecting people of our city.
Okay, it’s not like we’re talking high quality goods, here. I’m assuming both products achieve the same level of sweet, sweet mediocrity. But it’s the principle of the thing! The ice cream truck should be pure and good, not predatory and false. That jingle should mean one thing, not two. Plus, there’s the accountability aspect. Mister Softee stands behind a beloved brand that’s been known to the area since the 1950s. Master Softee, on the other hand, could be dusting their cones with roach poop and all complaints will still get forwarded to his competitor because no one even knows the Master isn’t a Mister.
I am going to have to be vigilant and pay close attention to the ice cream trucks I patronize for my twice-yearly frosty treat. And by frosty treat, I mean responsible, nutritious, adult dinner. And by that I mean milkshake. And by twice-yearly I mean way, way more than that.
Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!