Creator of the Mister Softee’s Jingle Dies

Les Waas produced almost 1,000 songs in his lifetime. Some of his customers included the Phillies and Melrose Diner.

A Mister Softee ice cream truck makes its way through the streets of Brooklyn, New York, Monday June 18, 2007. New York can be earsplitting. But city officials say Gotham is about to get a little quieter when new noise regulations take effect July 1. Even Mr. Softee will have to keep it down. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Photo by Bebeto Matthews/AP

The high-pitched chime of Mister Softee’s ice cream truck is one of the first signs that summer has reached Philadelphia. The upbeat, instantly recognizable notes awaken the streets of the city and remind us that there’s life to be lived outside. Young kids run out of their homes, demanding a few buck from their parents for a chocolate-and-vanilla swirl.

The famous jingle was born in Philly, from the mind of Les Waas. He created the tune in 1960 for a Mister Softee’s radio ad, not knowing it was bound for fame. It was adopted as the song for Mister Softee’s trucks and is still in use across the nation almost 60 years later. Mister Softee’s has more than 600 trucks that span 15 states, as well as a franchise in China.

Waas died on April 19that the age of 94, reportedly of pneumonia.

The Mister Softee’s song has touched many ears, whether willingly or unwillingly. In 2004, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried unsuccessfully to ban the tune from New York City in order to reduce noise.

The Mister Softee’s jam was only one of the almost 1,000 jingles Waas produced in his lifetime. He was behind the “Everybody Who Knows Goes to Melrose” radio hit, and produced songs for everyone from the Phillies to the Holiday Inn. reports that before Waas joined advertising scene, he had a stint with the military — first working at the Navy Yard as a sheet metal worker, then later serving as an Air Corps pilot during World War II. After returning home from the war, Waas meet his wife Sylvia Wasserman at a dance in North Philadelphia. She handled the business side of his ad agency.

Waas became a key part of the city. He was known for his position as a guest lecturer at Temple University for broadcast advertising, as well as his comedic radio and TV appearances.

One of his quirkier contributions to the city was his creation of the Procrastinators’ Club of America in 1956. In 1966, the club hosted a peace march at City Hall to protest the War of 1812. They also released a monthly publication called “Last Month’s Newsletter” that announced events that had already passed.

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