The Mr. Softee truck jingle (and its imitators) is both a surefire sign of warming weather and possibly the most grating melody in the western musical canon. It has also become increasingly reviled by New Yorkers who just want the chance to enjoy the sounds of jackhammers and belligerent brunchers for a change. Many have taken up their ice cream ire with city authorities, and the Post now reports that over 7,000 complaints about Mr. Softee trucks and their jinglings have been filed in the last four years alone.
The number of complaints over the four-year period equate to an average of nearly five complaints per day year-round, even though snow, cold, decreased demand, and the machinations of demonic weather wizards keep the trucks off the streets during winter months.
Cheryl Fergus, 56, lives at 3230 Perry Ave. in Norwood, which is the address from which more Mr. Softee-related noise complaints have been lodged than any other. "That thing comes around 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. and I’m like, are you kidding me?," Fergus told the Post. "I’m trying to get my grandkids ready for bed and that ice cream truck comes around. All I hear is, ‘Grandma, grandma, we want ice cream!’"
Earlier this spring, our own Native New Yorker-in residence Jake Dobkin took up the issue of the Mr. Softee jingle and its maddening impact on our fair town:
Mister Softee—and other ice cream trucks—present a fascinating example of how our city noise laws work. Back in 2005, the owners of the trucks testified before the City Council, claiming that the lawmakers were "going to traumatize a lot of children in this city" if they went through with a proposed ban on the jingle. The Council caved to the ice cream lobby, and a deal was struck: the jingles are allowed to be played, but only when the vehicles are in motion (and presumably, not after 10pm at night—but why would anyone be driving a Mr. Softee truck that late anyway?)
If the truck on your corner is parked, and still playing its song, you have grounds to file a complaint at 311. The fines under the noise law vary from $50 up to $7000, but it seems like $350 is typical in ice-cream jingle related cases. If you file a complaint and give 311 your email, they'll followup to let you know what's been done about it. It may take a few tries before you get satisfaction—and there's always the risk that the truck will move to a new location down the block, or around the corner, where it'll just annoy your neighbors.