The maddening jingle of the Mister Softee fleet is everywhere during the warmer months—except Midtown, apparently. It seems a gang-like turf war has erupted in the cluttered swath of Manhattan, where competing ice cream empire New York Ice Cream is using intimidation tactics to keep would-be soft serve hawkers out of its territory. "You will never see a Mister Softee truck in Midtown," one vendor revealed to the Times. "If you do, there will be problems, and you won't see him there very long."
New York Ice Cream, which started out as Mister Softee imposter "Master Softee," has declared that "from 34th to 60th Street, river to river, that’s ours," and won't allow other rival vendors to cross those boarders. "If one of my drivers goes to Midtown, they'll bring their trucks in and surround them—a bunch of guys," according to Peter Bouziotis, the man who runs a Mister Softee depot. "They'll start banging on the windows."
Turf wars between competing businesses aren't uncommon and physical intimidation can also be expected in some form or another. Mister Softee drivers carry bats in all of their trucks, apparently, to ward off rivals.
But the street skirmishes are just one part of a larger war. Mister Softee has won several legal battles against New York Ice Cream, and one federal judge has ordered owner Dimitrios Tsirkos to pay Mister Softee $287,858.44 for legal fees on top of the nearly $500,000 he already owes. There's at least one New Yorker cheering for climate change.
Of course, the Ice Cream Turf Wars are well-documented; here's our look into an earlier skirmish: