|Founded||1956 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|John Conway, James Conway|
Mister Softee, Inc., was founded in 1956 in Philadelphia by two Philadelphia-born brothers, William Conway (né William Aloysius Conway; 1922–2004) and James Conway (né James Francis Conway; 1927–2006). Another brother, Joseph Patrick Conway (1926–1961), joined the firm and in 1961 moved to Illinois to serve as President of Mister Softee of Illinois, Inc., but died a month later in an auto accident in Chicago at age 35. A fourth brother, the oldest, Monsignor Walter Joseph Conway (1921–2000), was a clergyman with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Their only other sibling, John Conway (1924–1933), died at age 9.
In 1970, there was a stage powered by Mister Softee trucks at the Powder Ridge Rock Festival, leading to the cancellation of the event via court injunction. Country music artist Melanie Safka was the only performer to ignore this.
Mister Softee became one of the largest franchisors of soft ice cream in the United States, with about 350 franchisees operating 600 trucks in 15 states. Since 1959, and as of 2016, Mister Softee, Inc., has been headquartered in Runnemede, New Jersey, and is still owned and operated by members of the Conway family. Around 1999, William and James' sons, John P. Conway (born 1953) and Jim Conway, Jr. (born 1956), took over the business.
English-teacher-turned-entrepreneur-now-stand-up-comedian Turner Sparks (né Turner Benton Sparks; born 1982), was, while attending the University of Miami, roommates with Alex Conway (né Alexander Scott Conway; born 1982) – Jim Conway, Jr's., son. Sparks spoke fluent Mandarin and had been teaching English in Suzhou. In 2007, with Alex's help, Sparks launched a Mister Softee China franchise in Suzhou with just one truck. Five years later, Sparks had ten trucks and 25 employees, with plans to expand throughout China's eastern region.
Mister Softee China had created a menu that combined classic American ice cream products of shakes, floats, and sundaes with new Chinese products such as green tea ice cream, red bean ice cream, kiwifruit sundaes, and milk tea floats. While its American counterpart operated almost exclusively with trucks, Mister Softee China had kiosks in downtown shopping areas and trucks throughout China's suburban neighborhoods and business districts.
Mister Softee suspended its China operations in 2016.
The melody broadcast from Mister Softee trucks – bearing the likeness of a music-box – is a contrafactum of Arthur Pryor's 1905 composition, "The Whistler and His Dog."[a] Philadelphia ad man, Les Waas (né Lester Morton Waas; 1921–2016)[b] scored it with new words for Mister Softee, and titled it, "Jingle and Chimes." Waas created close to 1,000 jingles.
- Here comes Mister Softee
- The soft ice cream man.
- 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.
Michael Bloomberg, while Mayor of New York, launched an ambitious initiative in 2002 to crack-down on city noise, which included jingles broadcast from ice cream trucks – and in particular, the jingle from Mister Softee trucks. In 2005, in the face of opposition from citizens and members of the City Council, he compromised. Rather than banning mobile jingles, he permitted the trucks to air them while in transit, but only while in transit.
Trademark infringement tried in New York
Mister Softee has defended its trademarks, notably in the following two cases:
- Dimitrios Tsirkos, who until 2014 had for decades been a Mister Softee franchisee in New York, launched a competing ice cream vending company, which was incorporated January 24, 2014, in New York under the name Master Softee Inc., and, among other things, used Mister Softee's jingle. Mister Softee, in 2014, sued Tsirkos in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and prevailed on three allegations: (i) breach of franchise agreements, (ii) trademark infringement, and (iii) other unfair business practices. In 2016, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain held Tsirkos in contempt for failing to begin payments on a $97,000 judgment handed down in the 2014 case.
- The next year, Mister Softee won, by default, a Federal lawsuit against Dimitrios Konstantakakos and 3 DDD Ice Inc. – owner of New York Ice Cream Truck Inc. of Long Island City – preventing him from using Mister Softee's jingle.
Prior U.S. Classifications: 100 and 101
Registration No. 2218017
Registered January 19, 1999
|Sensory Mark—No Drawing|
Mark Drawing Code: 6 – for situations for which no drawing is possible, such as sound
Mister Softee, Inc. (New Jersey corporation)
901 Clements Bridge Road
Runnemede, NJ 08078
G&S: Retail mobile vending services through the use of trucks featuring soft ice cream.
Trademark application Serial No.: ; filed January 11, 1995
First use: March 1960; First use in commerce: March 1960
2nd Renewal: March 20, 2018
Affidavit text: Sect. 15. Sect. 8 Declaration (6–years). Section 8 Declaration (10–years) March 20, 2018
With respect to defending the trademarks, Mister Softee vice president Jim Conway has stated, "For 58 years we've spent our time, energy, and money developing brands. We're one of the most recognized brands. The people who are infringing on our trademark are not only hurting Mr. Softee, but also hurting our mom and pop franchisees. We take these actions to protect them as much to protect our own brand."
In June 1961, Doug Quattlebaum, an American Piedmont blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, was 're-discovered' playing popular and blues songs through the public address system of his Mister Softee ice cream van. The blues historian, Pete Welding, who became known for discovering talent in unusual places, heard his performances and arranged for him to record an album. Released by Bluesville Records, Softee Man Blues (1963) had a photograph of Quattlebaum in his ice cream uniform on its front cover.
Notes and references
- Arthur Willard Pryor (1869–1942) – trombone virtuoso, bandleader, and soloist with the Sousa Band – was also a prolific composer of band music, best known for his composition, "The Whistler and His Dog."
- Les Waas, in 1956, founded the Procrastinators' Club of America, and served as its president until 2011. Waas had been a member of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia for five decades, having served as President, then Chairman of the Board. He had been on its Board of Directors for over four decades, longer than any other member that proceeded him. On November 18, 2005, Waas was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia's "Hall of Fame." ("Les Waas," Marquis Who's Who, online; OCLC 4778551075)
- The Mister Softee Story, by Steve Tillyer, Appleby-in-Westmorland: Trans-Pennine Publishing, Ltd., and Colourpoint Books (November 2000); OCLC 862623130; ISBN 1903016134, 9781903016138; OL 12264808M
- Fox, Margalit (May 31, 2006). "James Conway Sr., 78, a Founder of Mister Softee, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-05-31.
- Ulrich, Lawrence (April 4, 2016). "Behind the Scenes at Mr. Softee's Ice Cream Truck Garage". The Drive. Retrieved 2017-04-02.
- Rubin, Ben Fox (November 5, 2018). "How China Drove Out Mister Softee". New York. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
- "How China Drove Out Mister Softee and Why You Need to Know About It," by Dan Harris, China Law Blog – China Law for Business, November 7, 2018
- "The Whistler and His Dog," caprice, Arthur Pryor (music), for orchestra; 2 copies filed 26 July 1905; © 27 July 1905; Class C (musical composition) 99585Catalog of Title Entries of Books and Other Articles, Class C, Musical Compositions, Vol. 44, No. 32, Third Quarter 1905, p. 465 (563)
- "Les Waas," Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia (retrieved October 11, 2007)
- Chapter 5: "Ding, Ding!: The Aesthetic of Ice Cream Truck Music," by Daniel T. Neeley, The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies (Vol. 2), Sumanth Gopinath & Jason Stanyek (eds.), Oxford University Press (2014), p. 155
- "S-O-F-T Double E, Mister Softee – A one-man band of an adman recorded an infectious three-minute earworm that will disrupt your sanity this summer," by Peter Smith, Smithsonian, March 26, 2012
- Fox, Margalit. "Les Waas, Mister Softee's Songwriter, Dies at 94". New York Times. April 27, 2016.
- Yang, Tia S. "Les Waas, legend in advertising, known for jingles". Philadelphia Inquirer. April 23, 2016.
- Hu, Winnie (December 14, 2005). "That Jingle Of Mr. Softee's? It's the Sound Of Compromise". New York Times.Excerpt: "The Bloomberg administration will allow the ice cream trucks to continue playing the sprightly ditty while trolling for young customers. But under a compromise with the City Council, the jingle must be halted when the trucks are not moving."
- "Master Softee Barred From Using Mister Softee Trademarks". Portfolio Media Inc. November 24, 2015. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
- "Judge Holds Ice Cream Truck Owner in Contempt in Cone War," by Emily S. Rueb, New York Times, June 23, 2016
- Mister Softee, Inc., and Mister Softee of Queens, Inc., v. Dimitrios Konstantakakos and 3 DDD Ice, Inc. (Magistrate Steven M. Gold), 15 CV 4770 (SJ) (SMG) Casetext Inc. (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, August 11, 2016) ("Default judgement in favor of plaintiff for failure of defendant to respond").
- "Mister Softee Wins Soft Serve Battle". Vox Media Inc. June 28, 2016. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
- "Ice Cream Wars: Mister Softee Dishes Out Injunction Against Knock-off Trucks". NBCUniversal Media, LLC. June 11, 2014. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
- "Doug Quattlebaum | Biography & History". AllMusic. January 22, 1927. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
- "Doug Quattlebaum | Big Road Blues". Sundayblues.org. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
- "Herb Gart - Incite Site". Therainbow.com. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
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