You might not know Les Waas but you likely know the tune he created that elicits memories of summertime and, of course, ice cream.
Waas, a Philadelphia-based adman, created the chiming jingle that lives on today every time a Mister Softee truck rolls down the street. Waas died April 19 of pneumonia at Abington Memorial Hospital at the age of 94. [[377450071, C]]
Waas’ memorable (if you like it or not) jingle, officially known as "Jingle and Chimes" -- known for the instrumental but that song had words with it: The CREAM-i-est DREAM-i-est SOFT ice CREAM you GET from MIS-ter SOF-tee…” -- first began blaring from loudspeakers on Mister Softee trucks in 1960 after Mister Softee grabbed Waas to write its iconic theme. The Runnemeade, New Jersey- based ice cream truck giant shared condolences on Waas' passing on its Facebook page: "The song has since become one of the most recognized commercial jingles in America." [[377452581, C]]
The Mister Softee song, originally written for the company started in his Philadelphia hometown just a few years earlier, played in the company's ice cream trucks as a way to signal their approach. Soon, the song became ubiquitous with ice cream, summer and fun as the opening notes became instantly recognizable to anyone within earshot — sparking a craving they didn't realize existed.
Both loved and loathed, the jingle remains a lasting part of the collective American childhood.
It was one of nearly 1,000 jingles he wrote for Philly-based Waas, Inc.
Per Waas’ NY Times obituary:
He celebrated the virtues of clients including Holiday Inn, the Philadelphia Phillies and at least one local food manufacturer. (“Give me a little Kissling’s Sauerkraut,/It’s fresh and clean, without a doubt./In transparent Pliofilm bags it’s sold,/Kissling’s Sauerkraut, hot or cold.”)
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But none captured the public — and held it captive — like the Mister Softee song, which the Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies, Volume 2 (2014), calls “today’s best-known ice cream truck tune,” and of which Mr. Waas remained proud to the end of his life.
Waas, whose wife of 53 years Sylvia died in 2004, was a 2005 inductee into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. Besides his jingle work he also appeared on numerous television shows, had a radio show and came up with the “number system” for reporting school closings on air, according to the pioneers. [[211053881, C]]
He also served as pilot in World War II, said the Pioneers — where he served as president and chairman of the board.
Waas was also known for his sense of humor. University of Calgary psychology professor Piers Steel wrote in a 2011 "Psychology Today" article that in 1956, Waas and some of his fellow admen posted a sign in a Philadelphia hotel reading, "The procrastination's club meeting has been postponed." The sign drew attention from local press, prompting Waas to eventually hold the meeting — the start of a long-running prank. Waas served as president of the Procrastinators Club of America, which even today claims thousands of members.