An Iconic Ice Cream Truck Is in Houston
The creamiest, dreamiest soft ice cream
You get from Mister Softee
For a refreshing delight supreme
Look for Mister Softee
The tune that accompanies those lyrics is familiar to anyone who grew up anywhere between Philadelphia and New York. But it’s completely new to Houston.
“They don’t know who we are. They hear the music coming down the street and they don’t know what do—they get frazzled,” said Richard (Richie) Peiffer about his potential customers. “If I did that back in Jersey, you’d have 30 kids running up behind the truck.”
Peiffer is talking about Mister Softee, the ice cream brand with an iconic-to-some ice cream truck. Mister Softee started in 1956 when the Conway brothers, Jim and Bill, jury-rigged a truck with an ice cream machine from their employer, Sweden Freezer. They mixed in green food coloring for Saint Patrick’s Day and handed out free ice cream in their Philadelphia neighborhood. The rest is history.
Now fast-forward to today. Peiffer, originally from Philadelphia suburb Paulsboro, New Jersey, has been living in Houston for 13 years. Three years ago, and back in Jersey, he witnessed his friend’s mom leaving her concession stand to chase after a Mister Softee truck with a baseball bat. That was the a-ha moment.
He paid around $150,000 for the truck and took a crash-course training program to become a Mister Softee driver/server. He’s been driving it for about three months, all alone in Houston, and anyone else that wants to buy into the franchise can’t touch his area.
Peiffer doles out soft-serve in cones, including those that can be dipped in a chocolate or cherry shell. Add sprinkles if you wish, or get a sundae with toppings such as cherry, butterscotch, chocolate, pineapple, and strawberry. Look for root beer floats, banana splits … anything you can possibly imagine a soft-serve truck can do. But Peiffer said the quality of Mister Softee, compared to fast-food offerings like what you’ll find at McDonald’s, is what sets it apart.
“Get that on a hot summer’s day and soon enough it’s melting and running down your hand,” said Peiffer. “With our ice cream we use a heavier soft serve; it’s creamier, and is not likely to melt within minutes.”
Recently there have been Mister Softee sightings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Walking Stick brewery and HEB in Pearland. And if it comes your way, Peiffer is hoping you’ll feel the same way a kid back in the Philly area would’ve felt upon hearing that old instrumental jingle.
Peiffer gives frequent updates on his truck’s whereabouts through a Facebook page. You can also find Mister Softee on Instagram.