To generations of children, the arrival of summer has been heralded by the loud jingle emanating from Mister Softee ice cream trucks. With a hungry response that’s almost Pavlovian in nature, kids have raced after these refrigerated vehicles to order chocolate or vanilla ice cream served in a bowl or on a baked cone.
The Mister Softee empire began more than 50 years ago when James F. Conway Sr. and his younger brother William were working at the Sweden Freezer company in Philadelphia. They devised a plan to bring ice cream to the masses using specially equipped refrigerated trucks and offered the idea to their employer but were turned down. So they decided to go into business for themselves.
On St. Patrick’s Day in 1956, the siblings drove the first Mister Softee truck through the streets of Philadelphia, giving away free ice cream that was dyed green to honor their Irish heritage. Three years later, their mobile ice cream company moved to Runnemede, N.J., where it expanded into a multimillion-dollar business.
James Francis Conway Sr. was born in Philadelphia, the eldest son of Irish immigrants. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. Conway, whose favorite ice cream flavor was vanilla, was vice president of Mister Softee Inc. until his retirement in 1998. He died on May 28 of cancer at the age of 79.
William Conway remained president of Mister Softee until his death in 2004. James Conway Jr. and his cousin John Conway now run the company. Mister Softee’s 600-plus franchises currently sell soft-serve ice cream in 15 states.
Download the Lyrics and Music to the Mister Softee Theme Song
Diggbutton.jpg Digg This