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Sep 1, 2017 Things We Love

The Ultimate Song of the Summer

Larry Closs

Larry Closs

Marketing Director

“Despacito” might be the song of this summer, but the Mister Softee Song is the song of every summer. Here are six things you didn’t know about it.

What’s the ultimate Song of the Summer? We asked our staff to compile  a list of the Top 10 Summer Anthems but the most obvious choice didn’t make the cut, and probably for good reason. Because the ultimate undisputed hot weather anthem of this summer or any summer is an insidious earworm, an infectious siren call, aural sex—and the epitome of musical branding—all rolled into one. It’s the Mister Softee song, the Song of the Summer since 1960.

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You know it by heart, whether you want to or not, and whenever you’re in earshot, you involuntarily start to salivate for a waffle cone topped with a towering spiral of smooth and creamy soft-serve. With rainbow sprinkles, please, Mr. Pavlov. But even though you know every note, here are six things that might come as a surprise.

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Les Waas, composer of the Mister Softee song. Photo courtesy Broadcast Pioneers

1. The Writer

Officially known as “Jingle and Chimes,” the Mister Softee song was based on a 1913 tune called “The Whistler and His Dog” and written by Philadelphia ad man Les Waas, originally for a 1960 radio commercial. The prolific Waas, founder of his own advertising agency, Waas, Inc., authored nearly a thousand jingles for clients that included Holiday Inn, the Philadelphia Phillies and the U.S. Coast Guard. None of those came close to matching the enduring pop-cultural impact of the Mister Softee song, however, and for Waas, who passed away in 2016 at 94, the Mister Softee song will remain his greatest legacy.

2. The Lyrics

Did you know the Mister Softee song has words? You do now. And you can sing along with this vintage TV commercial.

The creamiest dreamiest soft ice cream,
You get from Mister Softee.
For a refreshing delight supreme,
Look for Mister Softee
My milkshakes and my sundaes
And my cones are such a treat.
Listen for my store on wheels
Ding-a-ling down the street.
The creamiest dreamiest soft ice cream,
You get from Mister Softee.
For a refreshing delight supreme,
Look for Mister Softee
S-O-F-T double E. Mister Softee!

3. In Pop Culture

“When I was a kid I had a traumatic incident involving Mister Softee…” Larry David confesses to his shrink in an episode of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The “incident” involves losing a childhood game of strip poker to a female friend. His humiliation was compounded by the fact that they were in a Mister Softee truck. And they were discovered by the truck’s owner. And the owner happened to be the girl’s father. The final indignity? The Mister Softee song was playing on repeat in the background the entire time, providing a perky soundtrack to his shamefest, scarring young David forever and still inducing panic attacks decades later. Soft-serve, indeed!

Other tributes to the Mister Softee song abound on YouTube and Soundcloud, where the jingle has been remixed and reimagined in just about every musical genre: there’s a thrash-metal version by Nuclear Assault, an EDM version by DJ/music producer Audien, a trap version by DJ Masta Z and an exceedingly alternative version by Punch Drunk Monkeys. Last but not least is a stirring classical take titled String Quartet No. 1: “The Mister Softee Variations” by composer Jed Distler.

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4. Mister Softee vs. New York City

In the summer of 2004, New York’s then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg implemented a crackdown on noise, part of his ongoing commitment to improving quality of life for all New Yorkers. The goal was to set legal decibel limits on excessive irritants like loud music, rowdy canines, off-hour jackhammers and heavy-handed car horn honkers. But, as The New York Times pointed out, “the administration’s plan to ban the [Mister Softee] jingle was the most intriguing element” of the new noise code. Incredibly, an uproar ensued, and, according to the Times, several city lawmakers balked at the proposed ban. “You’re going to traumatize a lot of children in this city,” avowed one. Meaning: You’re going to traumatize a lot of children in this city by NOT allowing them to hear the Mister Softee song!

Be that as it may, a hearing with City Council was set, during which a member of Mister Softee’s founding family, James Conway Jr., admitted the song’s potential for annoyance but also rose to its defense: “The Mister Softee song as a threat to the health and welfare of New Yorkers? I don’t think so.” A compromise was reached, mandating that the song can only be played when Mister Softee trucks are moving. “A classic example of democracy in action,” said a satisfied Conway.

5. Mister Softee vs. New York Ice Cream

In 2015, a former Mister Softee franchisee, Dimitrios Konstantakakos, started a brand called New York Ice Cream that was sold from a truck similar to one of Mister Softee’s. Suspiciously similar, in fact, but, well, okay. What wasn’t okay was the fact that Konstantakakos played the Mister Softee song from his suspiciously similar truck. Mister Softee responded by filing suit in Brooklyn Federal Court for trademark infringement. Konstantakakos didn’t even respond—essentially pleading no contest—and the Court issued a default judgement against him, along with an order to pay $10,000 to cover Mister Softee’s legal fees.

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6. Ringtone!

Do you want to drive your family, friends and coworkers crazy? If you like to live dangerously, you can download a Mister Softee song ringtone right here, along with a sample audio file and a Mister Softee coloring page for when you’re all alone because you downloaded the ringtone.

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