Ice cream is one of the best snacks you can get when you are walking under the hot sun or sitting in the park and people watching. Finding a quick, nostalgic ice cream that is simple yet satisfying is very easy thanks to the ice cream trucks around New York. NYU students’ quad and the heart of Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is one of the many places you can find ice cream trucks. As an avid ice cream eater and a lover of ice cream trucks in general, I am proud to say that I actually tried all the ice cream trucks around Washington Square Park — multiple times — and have made some observations.
As I understand, New Yorkers have very strong opinions on ice cream trucks — they either love or hate them. Most New Yorkers complain about the jingle that triggers their children into wanting ice cream and wakes them up. There have been more than a thousand complaints in the last year about the jingle, so much so that there is a website where you can report the truck. As time passes and New York’s hip food scene grows, ice cream trucks have become so much more than the simple soft serve ice cream trucks we know. Although trucks like Mister Softee struggle to keep up with ice cream trucks like Van Leeuwen’s and Big Gay Ice Cream, nothing can beat their vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles that sparks up childhood memories.
Mister Softee is an ice cream brand that was founded by two brothers — William and James — who started out by selling green ice cream in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. They have been growing ever since. To my mind, ice cream trucks are an ode to childhood and everything it represents — sweet, simple and cheerful. Therefore getting ice cream from the truck is somewhat a nostalgic act for me.
After some walking around, I found three ice cream truck locations around Washington Square Park: one right behind the arch on Fifth Avenue, one in front of Kimmel and one on the corner of Waverly Place and University Place. I knew that Mister Softee was a chain and that the quality shouldn’t really change, but I thought it was worth the research. To make things fair, I ordered the same ice cream from each truck: vanilla ice cream with blue sprinkles.
Softee #1: Behind Arch, Fifth Avenue
I paid three dollars for my order and was greeted with a warm welcome. The ice cream was cold but not too rm, and the sprinkles covered the whole ice cream. I enjoyed the treat a lot.
Softee #2: In front of Kimmel
I am convinced that ice cream trucks like ripping off students because I paid four dollars for this ice cream. I don’t know if this was an error in calculation, me or the man being distracted, or just a change in price. The ice cream was good, but they did not have blue sprinkles, so I had to go with rainbow sprinkles. The ice cream was almost too warm, so it started to melt as soon as I got it. I had to speed eat it.
Softee #3: Waverly and University
The spot of this ice cream truck is kind of awkward just because the pavement is not wide enough for both the people walking and rushing to class and the ice cream lovers who stop to get ice cream. The ice cream was lovely. It did not melt the second I held onto it, so I could enjoy it rather than rush to eat it.
All in all, if I had to choose one of the trucks around Wash- ington Square Park, I would go for the one behind the Arch on Fifth Avenue because it gave off positive vibes and made me relive my childhood moments of running after ice cream, begging my mom to buy me some. I think with the fast pace of New York, it is great to have things that make you stop and think about the past and slow things down. Make sure you try other high-end, cool ice cream trucks, but don’t forget to visit the classic Mister Softee.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 5 print edition. Email Yasmin Gulec at [email protected]