Bungalow Bar was a brand of ice cream sold from trucks to consumers on the streets in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx, as well as Washington Heights in Manhattan, in Yonkers and Nassau County, during the 1950s and 60s. Bungalow Bar trucks serviced the Bushwick section of Brooklyn during the '40s. Bungalow Bar trucks had a distinctive, quaint, and decidedly old-fashioned look: white, with rounded corners, and made to look like a small, mobile bungalow topped with a dark brown shingle roof.
The founders of Bungalow Bar were Peter Adams, a Greek immigrant who left Greece just before the onset of WWII, and his cousins Chris & John Iconomakis. Peter Adams had three children; a son (George) and 2 daughters (Olga & Helen) whom are still alive today (October 2014). Chris & John's daughters also worked in the factory. To the best of their memory, they can remember the huge production building located in Richmond Hill, Queens. The one daughter worked both in the office and then learned how to operate the machines in the packing plant.
Bungalow Bar's chief competitive rival was Good Humor, a national chain, whose trucks appeared larger, more angular, and more modern. Perhaps for this reason, Bungalow Bar suffered from a terrible - and undeserved - reputation among children, who believed their product inferior. Good Humor's ice cream on a stick sold for 10 cents, while Bungalow Bar's price was 5 cents. This reputation was expressed as a kind of chant or song and, passing from one child to another, quickly crossed neighborhood boundaries and age groups. The lyrics, as learned in Flatbush, Brooklyn in the late 1950s, were:
Tastes like tarAnd throw it far
Put it in a jar
There were many localized variations of this chant. One, during the same period went:
Tastes like tarThe sicker you are
The more you eat
And another, from Brooklyn:
Tastes like tarAnd spit it far
Take a bite
References in popular culture
- In an episode of The Sopranos, Tony Soprano, being joshed by non-Mafia individuals, asked if he ever met John Gotti, replies that he did meet Gotti once at an auction when Bungalow Bar declared bankruptcy and was auctioning off their trucks. Tony said he bid on the very last truck, but was outbid by Gotti. However Gotti was a good sport about it and gave Tony a ride home in the truck, and rang the bell the whole ride home.
- The Sopranos, "A Hit is a Hit" (1x10)
- Queens Tribune: "Mr. Softee A Soft Spot For Soft Serve"
- Founder information provided by Peter Adams' grandson, Peter Handras, who lives in East Elmhurst, Queens County, New York.
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