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Mister Softee and New York Ice Cream Lock Horns In Gritty Summertime Turf War

The battle is like something from Fury Road

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A secret war is being waged on the streets of New York City between Mister Softee and his enemy New York Ice Cream. Drivers from the latter regularly harass employees from the former, and sometimes these arguments get physical. Peter Bouziotis, the operator of the Softee depot in the Bronx, tells the Times: "If one of my drivers goes to Midtown, they’ll bring their trucks in and surround them — a bunch of guys....They’ll start banging on the windows." And an anonymous New York Ice Cream truck driver explains: "You will never see a Mister Softee truck in Midtown....If you do, there will be problems, and you won’t see him there very long."

The turf war started approximately three years ago when a Softee truck operator named Dimitrios Tsirkos cut ties with the company and rebranded his fleet of 12 trucks with the Master Softee name and logo. Mister Softee sued, so Tsirkos changed the name to New York Ice Cream. Unlike Mister Softee, the New York Ice Cream trucks are owned by the individual operators, not the company. Although the Mister Softee team has played rough with competitors in the past, the company does not want its employees to tussle with New York Ice Cream's Midtown crew. Softee's VP Jim Conway explains: "Corporately, we would love to see people go in there; we consider it wide open territory, and anyone would do great selling there....The issue is that people just fear for their safety."

Still, the Softee drivers have to defend themselves as part of their jobs, sometimes. One driver tells the Times: "Every truck has a bat inside."