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  • Kathy Cleveland photo

    The opening day of King Kone, the Merrimack landmark on Old Route 3, brought hundreds of customers hungry for softserve ice cream. The Merrimack food is celebrating its 40th birthday by offering kiddy cups for 40 cents.
  • Kathy Cleveland photo

    Tasha Kay and her boyfriend Josh Parsons at King Kone's opening day.

    Kay lives in Springfield, Mass. and made the trip to New Hampshire to visit the Merrimack food stand, famous for its huge portions of softserve ice cream.
  • Kathy Cleveland photo

    Brielle Kovaliv, age 3, of Merrimack, enjoys her softserve ice cream during opening day of King Kone in Merrimack on Saturday. Through most of the day lines formed outside the local landmark, which is celebrating its 40th birthday by offering kiddy cups for 40 cents.
Sunday, March 18, 2012

King Kone marks 40th

Merrimack – Bridget Swain is a big Red Sox fan. For her, opening day at King Kone on Saturday was almost as good as opening day at Fenway Park.

“There is nothing else like it,” she said as she ate the soft-serve ice cream that is King Kone’s claim to fame.

Tasha Kay grew up in New Hampshire and now lives in Springfield, Mass. She drove up to see her family and go to King Kone.

“All week, I was looking forward to this,” she said of the vanilla ice cream that had been tinted green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Mandy Kovaliv, 34, of Merrimack, who was sitting at one of the few picnic tables in front of King Kone with her family, said she has been coming here all her life and remembers having ice cream after softball games when she was 8.

How often does she come now?

“Whenever Brielle wants to,” she said, referring to her 3-year-old daughter, who was intently eating ice cream by her side.

The food stand on Old Route 3 had its opening day of the season March 17, and this year is its 40th birthday.

To celebrate, the kiddy cones and cups – which are good-sized portions by nearly anyone’s standards – were only 40 cents on Saturday, and that price will continue on the 17th day of every month throughout the year, owner George Soffron said.

Soffron and his wife Andrea Young are the fourth owners of the business, which had its ground breaking on May 17, 1972.

They have owned it for 10 years, Soffron said in an email.

King Kone also sells hot dogs and tacos, but judging from the happy faces coming and going on Saturday, the big attraction is ice cream.