Vendor: Mobile Softee
City: Stanley, Hong Kong
My friend drove me around Hong Kong Island, and when we drove through Stanley, I recognized an iconic truck I read on this blog prior to the trip.
We had just dried up from getting soaked wet from a sudden downpoar at Big Wave Bay two hours earlier. So getting ice cream sounded like a fantastic idea! My friend parked and stayed in her car while I went across the street to get ice cream. An ice cream cone was $9 HKD (~$1.16 USD).
I got two soft ice cream, one for myself and one for my friend. The ice cream had already started to melt immediately after I received it! So I had to rush to my friend to give hers, take a pic of mine, and eat it all within a minute! The ice cream was soft, while the cone was thin and very crispy. Ahh, it was very refreshing in the hot and humid weather.
Next Stop Hong Kong has some detailed background info on Mobile Softee (formerly called Mister Softee):
Hong Kong is famous for its many street food snacks which are cheap, simple and available mostly throughout the year. Unfortunately, many street food stalls and hawkers disappeared or vanished due to Hong Kong’s continuously strive for modernization.
However, when you walk and wander around in Hong Kong you might have already noticed the uniquely designed white, red and blue vans “Mister Softee” (nowadays called “Mobile Softee”) with the sweet, cute music-box style melody coming out of the speakers of the vans. These vans are not only selling ice-cream in Hong Kong, but also spreading the special memories and Hong Kong culture to everyone.
After decades, Mobile Softee still use the famous and classic “Blue Danube” melody to attract attention. Once you hear this “Blue Danube” melody it is hard to get it out of your head again and if you walk in the famous sightseeing spots such as Victoria Harbor in Tsim Sha Tsui or through the crowded streets in Mong Kok, you can hear the Mister Softee melody from far away. As soon as the melody appears people start lining up in front of the red, white and blue ice-cream van waiting for their favorite street snack: ice-cream.
When you talk with locals you will easily understand why Mister Softee is so popular. Although, Mister Softee sells only four products (Soft Ice-Cream, Nutty Drumstick, Large Cups and Jumbo Orange), every Hong Kongnese knows Mister Softee and has their own set of (childhood) memories connected with this special ice-cream vendor. Ice-cream is in a sense one of the sweetest memories.
The Story of Mister Softee or Mobile Softee
The “Mister Softee” company was founded in Philadelphia in 1956 and is the largest soft ice-cream company in America. In the late 1970s, the unique Mister Softee Ice-Cream Vans have been imported from England and the Mister Softee success story began. In 1978, Hong Kong Government decided to stop issue hawking licenses. As a result of this law change resulted that existing licenses cannot be transferred to other or new vehicles anymore. Unfortunately there are only 14 Mister Softee Ice-Cream vans in Hong Kong. The story behind this is actually quite interesting and unique – a typical Hong Kong story. The Mister Softee Ice-Cream Vans you see on Hong Kong’s streets today are the vans from the 1970s. Having this unique law still applied probably adds to the charm and nostalgia feeling of Mister Softee. In 2010, “Mister Softee” changed the name to “Mobile Softee”.
Where to Find Mister Softee?
Literally citywide. Mister Softee Ice-Cream Vans can be found next to schools and train stations on weekdays and appear more often in the popular sightseeing spots such as Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Central, Temple Street or Victoria Park on weekends and holidays. Simply listen and hear if you can hear the catchy ice-cream tune or spot the eye-catching Mister Softee Van. Nowadays, you will have higher chance to see them in Golden Bauhinia Square Wan Chai, Star Ferry Pier Tsim Sha Tsui and near IKEA store next to Sha Tin MTR station.
The Damage or how much do I need to pay for it?
The Soft Ice-Cream starts at $8.0 HKD (hard to believe that the same product was only $0.5 HKD 30 years ago). If you don’t have enough change, they also accept Octopus payment.