Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The sabbath

Mr. Softee reaches China:
Mr. Softee or Mr. Soft Heart, the English translation of “ruan xin xian sheng” — there is no Mandarin word for Softee — has been a hit, with sales doubling every year since the first truck started rolling three years ago.

There are now five Mr. Soft Heart trucks in Suzhou, and one in the nearby city of Taicang.

“There is a franchising boom going on in China that is similar to what was happening in America in the 1950s and 1960s, so we really jumped in at the right time,” said Alex Conway, the president of Mr. Softee China, whose grandfather James Conway helped found the company in 1956.

Customers like Meng Xiangbo, 19, a college student, have proved Mr. Conway right. He is a regular customer of the Mr. Softee truck that peddles its treats in Suzhou’s university district.

One recent balmy afternoon, Mr. Meng ordered a kiwi sundae.

“They have six flavors,” he said of the sundaes. “I eat a different one every day. On Sunday, I rest.”


  1. I absolutely cannot remember who said this - it could have been a friend, or it could have been on the telly - but it is one of the greatest things I've ever heard: his or her dad told her when she was young that ice cream vans only played tunes when they had run out of ice cream, to stop people wasting their time.

  2. Not sure what happened to my gendered syntax there. Sorry. Oh, you didn't really mind. Sorry for this then.

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