By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN — Midtown's favorite ice cream lady, Chrissy "Miss Softee" Michaels, is passing her truck keys down to a new generation of hand-picked servers — with special ways of satisfying summer cravings.
Michaels, who built her brand as the "nice ice cream lady" using charm, delicious specialties — and sometimes a low-cut evening gown — has earned rave reviews from sundae lovers, is becoming manager of the "Rolling Cones," a collective of Mister Softee ice cream truck drivers she’s been forming since January.
Shes hopes to pass the ingredients of success down to her nine protégés, which include four women — a departure in the male-dominated industry.
"It's just a different world," said new hire Patrizza Jimenez, who plans to spice things up by trading aprons for sexy costumes including bikini tops and frothy tutus.
Some days she’ll be "Cop Girl." On others, she’ll try "Fire Chick," "Candy Stripe Girl" or "Alice in Wonderland."
"It's going to be sexy-themed. It’s going to be like a fantasy ice cream truck," said Jimenez, 41, who's also thinking of going by the nickname "P.J. Spice" in honor of the Spice Girls.
"It will be driven to the adults. But also to the children," she said.
Michaels, who was serving her last cones at Fifth Avenue and 45th Street Tuesday afternoon, found all of the new drivers via ads that asked applicants to skip their resumes and instead submit essays about why being an ice cream truck driver would be a dream job.
Jimenez, who has held a string of positions from bartender to spokeswoman to teacher, said she knew she'd be in heaven as soon as she saw the ad.
"Holy smacks! I always wanted to drive an ice cream truck! It’s always been at the back of my mind," she said.
Fellow new driver Gaby Santos felt the same way.
"It was immediate. I saw the ad and that was it," said Santos, 25, who intends to dress up as an "old school Mister Softee," complete with blue slacks, a white button-down shirt, blue suspenders and a 'Mister Softee' tie.
The crew also includes others from all walks of life, including a law student who just passed the bar exam, a musician who will go by the nickname "pork chop," and a former bartender who plans to serve fresh fruit and dress up as a vintage 50s pinup girl.
In addition to hand-picking the team, Michaels also spent months training, them and even created an instruction book on how to be a good driver.
The book includes step-by-step details on how to prepare a truck, interact with customers, cope with often grumpy (and sometimes hostile) fellow food vendors and — most importantly — find a spot. She’s even been testing them with secret shoppers to make sure they’re up to speed.
But Michaels said that all the work has paid off.
"It’s amazing to see. On their first day, they’re so excited," she said. "I'm very proud of them."
Customers were also clearly impressed.
"You’re going to sell out!" shouted one new fan as he passed by Jimenez’s truck Tuesday afternoon. "I’m going to get my ice cream from YOU!"
The Rolling Cones team can be tracked via Twitter here.