New York's Ice Cream Trucks Are In a Turf War

By Mike Pomranz |
Mister Softee, jingle

© John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT/Getty Images

Life can be tough hustling on the mean streets of New York City. We’re not talking about slinging drugs or dancing on subways. We’re talking, of course, about driving an ice cream truck.

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an expose documenting the ongoing beef between two companies that specialize in selling dairy products: veteran ice cream staple Mister Softee and recent upstart New York Ice Cream. Apparently, drivers for the latter used to cover Midtown Manhattan for the former before breaking off and claiming the turf as their own. As with any turf war, things can get nasty. “If one of my drivers goes to Midtown, [New York Ice Cream will] bring their trucks in and surround them — a bunch of guys,” said Mister Softee’s Peter Bouziotis. “They’ll start banging on the windows.”

A New York Ice Cream driver, who told the Times he needed to stay anonymous for fear of his job, confirmed the ice cream issues. “You will never see a Mister Softee truck in Midtown,” the driver stated. “If you do, there will be problems, and you won’t see him there very long.”


Of course, these are just truck drivers. In theory, they should be able to go anywhere. In fact, Mister Softee VP Jim Conway even said their brand wants drivers to try to work in Midtown. “We consider it wide open territory,” he said. “The issue is that people just fear for their safety.” So why not take some sort of legal action to stop the violence? Strangely, ice cream people follow a bit of a street code, apparently. “It’s just the way it is,” said Conway. “Life on the street.” Let me stress: The vice president of Mister Softee said that. The people selling your kids ice cream are serious badasses.

But the people working those streets for that almighty ice cream dollar have it the worst. “Every truck has a bat inside,” said Mister Softee driver Adam Vega. That’s not in case a group of kids want to play a pickup game of softball, I’ll tell you that much.


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