Friday, August 31, 2007

Hot in the City

Mister Softee's soft ice cream, still a hit.

Picture this (not too difficult this time of the year): it's hot, hazy and humid. You can see heat waves rippling from the asphalt, feel sweat trickling down your back. You're parched. Dying for something to revive you. And then you see him: Mister Softee.

Though the ubiquitous ice cream trucks can no longer play that nostalgic jingle (a citywide noise ordinance went into effect earlier this summer), the trucks, parked on corners in every neighborhood, and ice cream are much the same. For most New Yorkers, they are beacons of happiness and relief on sweltering summer days.

With not much more than chocolate or vanilla soft serve, you can choose from an impressive menu of cones, sundaes and shakes. "Everybody gets a chocolate dip," claims one Mister parked in Union Square, though other toppings include sprinkles, crunchies and peanuts.

While traditionalists are satisfied with strawberry shakes and butterscotch sundaes, many of the trucks show a little flair with their offerings. Try the Red Merlin, for example—a cone that's partly covered with rainbow sprinkles, partly with cherry dip. Or the Chocolate X-Mas with chocolate dip and whipped cream. It's no LA fro-yo or Italian gelato. But, yeah, that's sort of the point.

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