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 Harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui or though the crowded streets in Mongkok you can hear the Mister Softee melody from far away. As soon as the melody appears people start lining up in the 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 issuing 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 street 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”.
If you have a chance, we highly recommend trying a piece of Hong Kong’s ice-cream happiness. Our favorite choice is the Soft Ice-Cream in a cone. Although, there is only one flavor (Vanilla) you definitely should not leave Hong Kong without trying Mister Softee Ice-Cream which is not only on hot summer days and nights a welcome treat or as the Mister Softee songs goes “The creamiest, dreamiest soft ice cream, you get from Mister Softee”. If you want to try another option, you have to wait until Chinese New Year. Because during Chinese New Year, Mister Softee will offer “strawberry soft ice-cream”, which is in red and brings you good luck in a new year.
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, Mongkok, 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?
Gaining a little bit happiness isn’t too expensive. The Soft Ice-Cream starts at HK$ 8.0 (hard to believe that the same product was only HK$ 0.5 in 30 years ago). If you don’t have enough change, they also accept Octopus payment.