Vicki Sell, mother of 3-year-old Katherine, tenses when the vendor starts ringing his little bell, over and over, hoping her daughter doesn’t have the typical Pavlovian response.
Ever since Katherine had an inconsolable meltdown about not being able to have a treat, Ms. Sell has been trying to have unlicensed vendors ousted from the park. She has repeatedly called the city’s 311 complaint hot line, joining parents nationwide who can’t stand the icy man or his motorized big brother, the ice cream man.
“I fall into the camp of parents who are irate,” Ms. Sell said. She has equal disdain for Mister Softee and the ice cream pop vendor outside the park, but since they are licensed, there is not much she can do about them.
“I feel kind of bad about having developed this attitude,” she said. “I want Katherine to have the full childhood experience and all. But it’s really predatory for them — two of them — to be right inside the playground like this.”Ms. Sell says she is not obsessed with health and nutrition. She — and others — feel they have been pushed to the brink by that little bell. Across message boards and playgrounds, soccer fields and day camp exits, parents have been raging. In a greener, more health-conscious, unsafe world, the ice cream man has lost some of his mojo.