FANWOOD, NJ -- Soft ice cream technology has come a long way from the days of "vanilla, chocolate or mixed."

There are several theories as to who invented soft serve ice cream. Carvel founder Tom Carvel, is often given credit. The franchise founder suffered a flat tire on his ice cream truck in Hartsdale, New York, pulled into a parking lot, and began selling his melting ice cream to customers who drove past. Within two days, he sold his entire supply and concluded that soft serve ice cream was a marketable idea. Two years later, in 1936, Carvel opened his first store on the original broken down truck site, developed a soft serve ice cream formula, and patented a soft serve ice cream machine.

The new machine at Rocko's (34 South Martine Ave., Fanwood) can mix up to eight different flavors in addition to traditional vanilla and chocolate. These include cotton candy, birthday cake, banana, and mint chip. As with many machines today, the ice cream server is computerized and features a panel display that shows what the ice cream looks like. (Rocko's staff is not stingy about offering samples.)

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"People really like it," said Brandon Watterson, manager of Rocko's Ice Cream in downtown Fanwood. "We've definitely seen an increase in sales of our soft serve."

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Editor's Note: Rocko's Ice Cream is an advertiser of TAPintoSPF. For information about advertising, contact jmooney@tapinto.net.