When you woke up this morning, did you notice that something about today was … different? It’s spring, obviously, but this change wasn’t the birds chirping, nor the sunny, cloudless sky over Manhattan. This wasn’t a change you could see, necessarily — it was instead something you could feel not only in the air but also deep inside yourself. It was as if the year would be marked by everything that happened before today and after today.
Yes, friends, today is the first real day of Mister Softee Season.
The arrival of MSS is, of course, an unofficial spring tradition, one that changes each year but is, nevertheless, unmistakable when it arrives: it’s the first spring day where it’s nice enough to eat ice-cream outside, and from here on, the trucks will be out in full force.
This is a tradition for everyone. By virtue of soft serve’s gentle price and — when the weather is nice — ready availability, the first day of MSS is, like the arrival of cherry blossoms or the turning of the leaves, a ritual in which everyone can partake. Children and grown-ups alike pulse with an energy that says, “Oh, hell yeah.” They know that chocolate dips, double-headers, and pineapple sundaes are here. They’re ready for the smooth, almost polished, and deliciously dense ice cream.
You no doubt know that New York’s streets are the scene of ongoing ice-cream-truck turf wars, and so it’s worth mentioning that finding a Mister Softee truck specifically is not necessary in order to partake in this celebratory day. Practically any ice-cream truck will do, as long as the ice-cream it dispenses (a) is swirled and (b) can be eaten outside.
The trucks that crowd New York in the warmer months are a reminder of our shared values and tastes. They give us a chance to leave work briefly and go eat sprinkles and chocolate outside for a few fleeting moments. If you’ve lived here long enough, you’ll remember a sweltering summer day when you came across a Mister Softee truck on the street like an oasis in the desert. The first day of MSS is a chance to find the nearest truck and stand in line with like-minded people who, like you, know that the key to truly enjoying life is to take advantage of these little moments when they arrive. So what are you waiting for? Why are you still reading this? Get up from your desk, or put down your phone, and go hit the streets for some soft serve. Grub Street will see you out there.