Mister Softee's feeling the heat.
The venerable ice cream truck - jangling out "Turkey in the Straw" and offering up a rainbow of Rocket Pops and Eskimo Pies - faces a growing list of communities that have soured on the Good Humor Man.Laws curbing ice cream trucks have popped up across the nation and baby boomers who once chased after the trucks as giggling children now consider the vendors of frozen treats as aggravating - and even dangerous.
No longer the symbol of cozy tranquility, roving ice cream trucks have lately been blamed for everything from poor nutrition and noise pollution to creating traffic hazards and attracting pedophiles.
"Some people say the truck is annoying, but it's part of a summer tradition," said Sue Bankert, 40, owner of Sue's Ice Cream, a six-truck operation that has sold ice cream in towns along the state line between Massachusetts and Rhode Island since 1989.
"The kids just love it. You should see them on the street corner dancing away to the music," said Bankert, who offers about 80 confections ranging in price from 50 cents to $1.50.
Last year, Bankert became the target of an angry neighbor who complained to local officials that the truck's rendition of "The Entertainer" - the Scott Joplin piano rag made famous in the movie "The Sting" - was too loud.
Officials in Hamilton, N.Y., went one step further by banning all ice cream vendors from playing amplified jingles. Violators face a steep fine and up to 15 days in jail.
Some vendors, however, refuse to melt away quietly.
In a lawsuit that went all the way to federal court, Stafford Township, N.J., tried to forbid vendor Jeffrey Cabaniss from playing "Turkey in the Straw" on his truck's loudspeaker. Cabaniss won the free-speech case, but since then has voluntarily switched his jingle to the quieter, less jarring "Music Box Dancer."
The Dallas suburb of University Park banned mobile ice cream vendors after a 6-year-old treat-seeker was seriously injured by a passing car last year. In Houston, 375 ice cream trucks were barred from selling in school zones during class hours, amid fears that children were running into traffic in pursuit of the icy treats.