Mister Softee

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Mister Softee, Inc.
Mister Softee
IndustryIce cream
Founded1956; 67 years ago (1956)
  • William Conway
  • James Conway
901 Clements Bridge Road Runnemede, New Jersey
Key people
  • John Conway
  • James Conway, Jr.
ProductsIce cream

Mister Softee, Inc. (doing business as Mister Softee) is an American ice cream truck franchisor, best known in the northeastern United States. The company is based in Runnemede, New Jersey.

Business history[edit]

Mister Softee was founded in 1956 by brothers William Aloysius Conway (1922–2004) and James Francis Conway (1927–2006) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1][2] Headquartered in Runnemede, New Jersey since 1958, Mister Softee became one of the largest franchisors of soft ice cream in the United States, with about 350 franchisees operating 625 trucks in 18 states.[citation needed] Around 1999, William and James' sons, John P. Conway and Jim Conway, Jr., took over the business.[3]


A Mister Softee ice cream truck in Ma On Shan, Hong Kong, 2008

English-teacher-turned-entrepreneur-now-stand-up-comedian Turner Sparks was roommates with Alex Conway – Jim Conway, Jr's. son while attending the University of Miami. 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.[4][5] 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.[6][7]

Mister Softee suspended its China operations in 2016.[6]


Mister Softee mascot and official truck at an event in Tampa, Florida

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."[8][a] Philadelphia ad man, Les Waas (né Lester Morton Waas; 1921–2016)[9][10][b] scored it with new words for Mister Softee, and titled it, "Jingle and Chimes."[11] Waas created close to 1,000 jingles.[12][13]

"Jingle and Chimes" (lyrics)E major, "jaunty" 6

Here comes Mister Softee
The soft ice cream man.

1st verse

The creamiest dreamiest soft ice cream,
You get from Mister Softee
For a refreshing delight supreme
Look for Mister Softee

2nd verse

My milkshakes and my sundaes and my cones are such a treat
Listen for my store on wheels ding-a-ling down the street

3rd verse

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, but only while in transit.[14]

Trademark infringement cases in New York[edit]

Mister Softee has defended its trademarks, notably in the following two cases:

        Prior U.S. Clas­si­fi­ca­tions: 100 and 101
        Reg­is­tra­tion No. 2218017         
        Reg­is­tered Jan­u­ary 19, 1999         
Service Mark
Prin­ci­pal Reg­is­ter
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
        The mark con­sists of a mu­si­cal jin­gle com­posed of six­teen notes in the key of E flat, in the se­quence of B – C – B – G – F – E – F – E – C – E – D – E – F – B – G – E, which is then re­peat­ed. (Mark audio on file)
        G&S: Re­tail mo­bile vend­ing ser­vic­es through the use of trucks fea­tur­ing soft ice cream.
        Trade­mark ap­pli­ca­tion Se­ri­al No.: 74619989; 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
        Ja­son Fitz­ger­ald Turn­er, Trade­mark Ex­am­in­ing At­tor­ney, USPTO

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."[19]

Doug Quattlebaum[edit]

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.[20][21] The blues historian, Pete Welding, who became known for discovering talent in unusual places,[22] 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.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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."
  2. ^ 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)


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ Fox, Margalit (May 31, 2006). "James Conway Sr., 78, a Founder of Mister Softee, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-05-31.
  3. ^ Ulrich, Lawrence (April 4, 2016). "Behind the Scenes at Mr. Softee's Ice Cream Truck Garage". The Drive. Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  4. ^ Rubin, Ben Fox (2018-11-05). "How Mister Softee Got Driven Out of China". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  5. ^ Mallozzi, Vincent M. (2010-04-14). "Mr. Softee Sets Sights on China and Beyond". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  6. ^ a b Rubin, Ben Fox (November 5, 2018). "How China Drove Out Mister Softee". New York. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  7. ^ "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
  8. ^ "Les Waas," Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia (retrieved October 11, 2007)
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ "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
  11. ^ Fox, Margalit. "Les Waas, Mister Softee's Songwriter, Dies at 94". New York Times. April 27, 2016.
  12. ^ Yang, Tia S. "Les Waas, legend in advertising, known for jingles". Philadelphia Inquirer. April 23, 2016.
  13. ^ 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."
  14. ^ "Master Softee Barred From Using Mister Softee Trademarks". Portfolio Media Inc. November 24, 2015. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  15. ^ "Judge Holds Ice Cream Truck Owner in Contempt in Cone War," by Emily S. Rueb, New York Times, June 23, 2016
  16. ^ 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").
  17. ^ "Mister Softee Wins Soft Serve Battle". Vox Media Inc. June 28, 2016. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  18. ^ "Ice Cream Wars: Mister Softee Dishes Out Injunction Against Knock-off Trucks". NBCUniversal Media, LLC. June 11, 2014. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  19. ^ "Doug Quattlebaum | Biography & History". AllMusic. January 22, 1927. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  20. ^ a b "Doug Quattlebaum | Big Road Blues". Sundayblues.org. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  21. ^ "Herb Gart - Incite Site". Therainbow.com. Retrieved 2014-06-27.

External links[edit]