What Song Did Your Ice-Cream Truck Play?

‘Tis the season of the ice-cream truck, rolling along sun-baked neighborhoods with their music-box promises of whining kids, sugar rushes and brain freeze. The ice-cream truck was more than a way to fatten up and anaesthetize cranky kids on lazy summer days. I handled money for the first time by myself counting out nickels and dimes for a rocket pop for my little brother and something chocolate-y, I’m sure, for me. So you could say these garishly decorated motorized fridges, shaped kind of like a giant fudge popsicle themselves, are a mobile introduction to the elements of capitalism for the novitiate consumers of America. It’s the jingle, though, that elevates the ice-cream truck from the merely pleasurable to the magical. They operate on a frequency that makes children perk up instantly, and the tinkly tunes are perfectly Pavlovian: During the period I used an old music-box melody as my cell-phone ringtone, friends’ kids as young as 2 years old immediately brightened up and expectantly shouted “Ice cream!” whenever I received a call. So during a recent trivia exchange with some friends, about the lyrics to the Mr. Softee song, I realized that the Mr. Softee jingle had completely supplanted the song I’d grown up with in the Delaware Valley–the ice-cream truck in my childhood neighborhood played “Turkey in the Straw.” In a separate conversation with a friend who grew up in the Flemish part of Belgium, I learned that “Turkey in the Straw” may be as close to a universal ice-cream-truck song as we’ve got–she ID’ed it as the ice-cream-truck song of her youth, as well. Now I’m curious about what you all think of as the “real” ice-cream-truck song. Is it “Mr. Softee” or “Turkey in the Straw,” or something else entirely? Photo used under the GNU Free Documentation License; copyright owner Codepro at the English-language Wikipedia.

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