It's not really summer if you're not complaining about ice cream. This year we've already discussed the maddening song of the ice cream man, and how it drives parents into a state of fury. We've also wondered, give shortages of Good Humor bars and other deliciousness, if it could happen to us, too—some of us may have acquired stockpiles of our own favorite treats. Now we, helped along by the New York Post Ice Cream Report, have moved on to discussions of the rather vicious turf wars between trucks. How could something so reminiscent of our innocent childhoods, so cold and so sweet, turn so foul?
Business, that's how. Filthy lucre. Doree Lewak writes,
A turf war between Mister Softee trucks and rival ice-cream and frozen-yogurt peddlers has exploded this summer, leaving a trail of sabotaged trucks, bloody noses and even death threats.
“It got ugly fast,” said a 21-year-old Yogo frozen-yogurt driver of a recent run he had with a fuming team of Mister Softee men on Madison Avenue.
See, the thing is, everyone has their own "corner," as it were. And when people interfere on the claimed territory of others, people get mad. It's a tale as old as the oldest profession. According to this story, that means ice cream lugs cutting off brakes with crowbars on each other's trucks; a situation in which a Mister Softee man pointed a gun at a fellow Softee purveyor in Midtown and threatened to shoot him next time (“They are the Mafia. They are one big Mafia," says the threatened Softee); and multiple death threats, as well as those mysterious bloody noses (we never find out why, exactly—punches? Altitude?).
The turf wars have always been there, but the violence is greater this year, reports Lewak, for reasons no one know. Maybe because no one wants to get the cops involved and instead "the two competing bosses resolve matters privately." There's also what she terms "bad blood" between Mister Softee and Yogo trucks; the Yogos are former Mister Softees who quit and founded their new frozen yogurt company in 2010. But it's also, plain and simple, about the money: If two trucks are on the same block, the profits—$1,500 cash on a good, hot, summer day—can be cut in half.
In the words of one of the now-terrified ice cream men: "If you see a Mister Softee truck, you know bad things are coming!” So, that ice cream song has finally been acknowledged as the portent of evil we always knew it was.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.