Les Waas, 1921-2016
You’ve never heard of Les Waas, but if you grew up or lived at any time in the Philadelphia/Pennsylvania/New Jersey area or any of a dozen or so other states in that part of the country you know his work: Mr. Waas wrote the Mr. Softee jingle.
Waas was an advertising man and one of his clients was Mister Softee. The company was founded in 1956 and Waas wrote the jingle for a radio advertising campaign four years later. He went on to write nearly 1000 other jingles, some of them memorable, but it was the sound of the Mister Softee jingle coming from the truck that was around the corner that sent you rushing home to ask for the fifteen or twenty cents you needed to get a cone of soft serve. It’s a tune indelibly stamped in our minds, part of the soundtrack of our lives, and if it’s been 10 or 20 or 30 years or more since you’ve heard it just giving a quick listen right here will make you feel as if you heard it just yesterday.
The Curmudgeon, as it turns out, actually did hear it almost yesterday: a Mister Softee truck patrols his neighborhood regularly, and shortly after 4:00 this past Tuesday he heard the jingle – and like so many others through so many generations, he could name that tune in just a few notes and knew exactly what it signified.
“Mom, it’s Mister Softee. Can I get some?”
You certainly made your mark, Mr. Waas.