Stella O'Neill gives us the scoop on life as an ice cream truck driver.
How long have you been a Mister Softee franchisee in Westchester?
Fourteen years. We started with one truck; and now we have three.
What got you into the business?
My husband had worked on a Softee truck for a Yonkers man and he loved it. He always wanted to have his own. So we went into business with our first truck in 1995, and we’ve had all three of our children run a truck at one time or another. We only wish we’d done it a lot sooner.
Must have been a child’s dream for one’s parents to run an ice cream truck.
I remember how thrilled they were when we first told them. They told all their friends, and their schools had us visit. My son kept offering our truck for
Do you have set routes for your trucks?
I do, but they’re all split up. They go through all the parks and pools, and I have one that’s basically stationed at the Kensico Dam. And we do weddings, birthday parties, fundraisers, corporate events…you name it.
How long does a season run?
We go with the weather—it’s usually March until the beginning of November. We start our days around nine, and we usually don’t come in until nine at night—or later—and then the trucks have to be cleaned.
Do you get early birds?
As soon as we get on that truck at nine, we have people asking us for ice cream.
What’s your most popular item?
What’s your own favorite item?
Chocolate ice cream with a chocolate dip.
What about your husband?
He’s a vanilla boy.
Sick of ice cream?
I still enjoy it, but I try to not have it all the time. I could very easily have it three times a day.
Have ice cream tastes changed over the years?
When we started, vanilla was selling nine-to-one against chocolate. Now, it’s fifty-fifty.
What would people be most surprised to know?
The ice cream does not come frozen. It starts as a cream and the machine in the truck freezes it.
Have people’s health-consciousness affected your business?
I gotta say, if you’re an ice cream person, then you’re on our line.
Did you operate during the blackout in the summer of 2003?
Absolutely—we were the only thing open that wasn’t melting.
Does your truck play the Mister Softee jingle?
Yeah, some places don’t allow us to play it, but we’ll definitely play it on request, and we get a lot of requests. And it’s hard to get the kids out if you don’t play the music.
You must not be too happy with the first line of the Mister Softee jingle: “Here comes Mister Softee, the ice cream man.”
Yes, I know. I just tell everyone I’m Missus Softee.
Photo by John Rizzo