An anthropomorphic cone head with a dented wafer face is haunting the summer streets of Manhattan, blasting his funeral march through our city’s ubiquitous data harvesters, striking fear into nearby pedestrians, and befuddling city agencies.
Actually though, what the hell is going on here?
Here’s what we know: On Wednesday afternoon, LinkNYC kiosks along Third Avenue in midtown began, seemingly at once, to blast a slowed-down version of the Mister Softee theme song. No one knows why, and as far as anyone at LinkNYC can tell, it was not part of a promotion. Like many horror scenes, everything started out fine.
“Initially I thought I had just passed two Mr. Softee trucks in a row, since I heard it from block to block,” Steve Burges, a bike courier, told Gothamist. “Then I realized I was hearing it played on several consecutive blocks from the LinkNYC Kiosks, and it felt very odd.”
But as Burges continued passing the kiosks—nearly ten in all—each of them “playing the same jingle seemingly in unison,” the odd scene turned bloodcurdling. “Something was off because of the slow rhythmic the song, and it was really eerie,” he added.
Thanks for letting us know. Our team is looking into this further. If you know what specific Links you hear this on, would you mind DMing us that information?
— LinkNYC (@LinkNYC) May 23, 2018
Carla Giarusso first heard the eerie jingle outside of her office on 43rd Street and 3rd Avenue, and soon noticed two more in the area. “My initial reaction when I heard the first one was wtf/laughter but then I realized it was a few more and thought either 1/ the end is nigh or 2/ we they were hacked (ha) and then of course I naturally assumed it must be the Russians,” she told Gothamist.
“Then I stopped laughing when I remembered that sonic incident in Cuba last year and figured I may as well see if the city was aware…they seemed as perplexed [as I was].”
Concerned pedestrians who messaged LinkNYC on Twitter were told that the company is “currently looking into this,” and would reboot the tablets for the time being.
Asked about the creepy jingle, a LinkNYC spokesperson issued this statement: LinkNYC serves New Yorkers in many important ways—providing free wi-fi to more than 4 million users, free phone calls, device charging, and more—but unfortunately, we don’t serve ice cream. Once we were alerted to the Mr. Softee jingle, we immediately rebooted the tablets to end the song. Sorry if anyone wandered towards the kiosks looking for soft serve!”
Will this reboot be enough to stave off the coming war between man and machine and ice cream? Is this the latest gambit in the increasingly hostile dessert truck turf battle? Or is it all just some sort of Pavlovian psychological experiment, a way for the city to test its powers of conditioning over New Yorkers?
We’ll let you know when we find out—in the meantime, it’s a perfect day for a chocolate-vanilla swirl.
Reporting by Jen Chung.