Maria “Ice Cream Girl” Campanella’s Song Making Fun of Can Collectors Upsets Some Chinese Leaders


Canned music — Youtube music video on bottle collectors draws criticism

The Brooklyn Paper
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A homemade music video by a beloved Bensonhurst icon is raising eyebrows in the increasingly diverse neighborhood, which has gone from mostly Italian to predominantly Chinese in the past decade.

Maria “The Ice Cream Girl” Campanella — locally famous for her ice cream truck, which she has driven through Bensonhurst’s summer streets for 30 years — uploaded to YouTube a song titled “Yo Granny’s in My Garbage” poking fun at Southern Brooklyn’s can and bottle collectors.

The video shows a woman in yellowish make-up and wearing a conical straw hat popping out of a garbage can and rolling a cart around Bensonhurst to grab recyclables from trash bins outside private homes — a phenomenon that Campanella said is rampant in her native neighborhood.

“It’s an epidemic,” said Campanella, who finds the trend disturbing. “I see them out at two, three, in the morning. And people don’t like it, because they’re coming onto people’s property.”

But some Chinese community leaders say that the video is unfair and offensive to Asian-Americans.

“The way they present it is very disrespect­ful,” said Steve Chung, president of the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn and a member of Bensonhurst’s Community Board 11 — though he added that he didn’t believe Campanella’s intentions were necessarily bad. “I don’t think there’s any viciousness behind it, but I’m disappointed as a human being.”

But Campanella argued the video doesn’t single out Chinese-Americans — despite the Asian-looking headwear of the video’s main character

“If you go in any neighborhood, they got different people doing it, American-born people, Polish people, Asian people. It’s not racial profiling,” said Campanella. “A hat doesn’t distinguish a culture. If it’s a sunny day, anybody can wear a hat like that.”

Campanella also pointed out that a white can collector appears in the last 30 seconds of the video, and compared the song to a public service announcement, warning that it’s dangerous for elderly people to be out collecting recyclables from garbage cans late at night.

“There’s unsafe objects lurking in people’s garbage cans,” said Campanella. “They’re walking down the middle of the street at night, with a big shopping cart, and they can’t see the traffic. Granny should be home at night.”

Other prominent Bensonhurst Asian-American leaders agreed with Campanella. Community Board 11 member Victor Wong — who called the Ice Cream Girl a friend — said the video didn’t bother him.

“It wasn’t meant to be a racial thing at all,” said Wong “Someone who doesn’t know Maria well could potentially construe it as offensive, but that’s true with anything.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 10:08 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
I can't stand these little can-gremlins. Rummaging through recycling and waking me up at all the crap hours of the morning. I've had to chase them off more than a few times. They come around on collection day and break open the bags, spilling recycling all over the street! That's why I crush my cans and remove bar codes from my bottles.

The CDL 5 cent crap was put in place to protect big business and now is used by politicians to skim from. It is totally unnecessary now that we have recycling laws. Most states are smart enough not to do it.
March 5, 2013, 7:53 am
tom prendergast from windsor terrace says:
I was wondering if she's Cantonese
March 5, 2013, 9:46 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
Never mind the blatant racism -- the song and video are so bad they're offensive to ALL people.
March 5, 2013, 10:25 am
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
Italian Joe-

Lived in Bensonhurst for a couple of years (67th bet 18 & 19th). Can't blame the asians for living there. The only way they could do it is if the old timers moved out.

People in Bensonhurst got greedy, sold out and bought McMansions in Staten Island. Staten island is more like Bensonhurst than Bensonhurst is/was.

There was a time when folks would buy and sell among themselves. No realtor signs. The problem you may have now is the one currently afflicting Jersey city: a single family home turned into a flophouse for illegals.
March 5, 2013, 1:02 pm
Eileen Dover from Bensonhurst says:
Maria “The Ice Cream Girl” Campanella

March 5, 2013, 2:18 pm
Hot97 from brooklyn says:
thasssss racisssss
March 5, 2013, 3:28 pm
Anne from Bensonhurst says:
How is ITALIAN JOE's comment not removed? I don't think the video is racist, but ITALIAN JOE clearly is.

The video is just done in bad taste. Despite the nuisance, how do you go from portraying rummaging through cans to licking them? Not Campanella's best bet to be taken seriously.
March 5, 2013, 4:46 pm
ty from pps says:
Pat -- If they could only build a big fence around Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge, everyone would be happy. The residents wouldn't have to deal with all of those horrible outsiders and the rest of Brooklyn wouldn't have to deal with them... win-win, right?
March 5, 2013, 5:12 pm
margaret from marine park says:
No one should be allowed to go on someones private property or through their garbage unless a sign says 'bottle scavengers welcome'. I have seen these folks go into people's backyards and on their porches.

And if you do place that sign, don't expect your insurance company to reimburse you for robberies.
March 5, 2013, 5:44 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Well, that escalated quickly.
March 5, 2013, 11:17 pm
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:

I think there's few things - Brooklyn wise that we can agree on. This is one of them.

I lived there...still have family in B-hurst. When I lived I felt like I was living in a vacuum. I was considered an oddball because I went to museums on the weekend and worked in NYC.

My point was, if the place was basking in greatness, no one would have left. My aunt moved to Staten Island as well as her daughter. Other cousins have done the same thing.

I don't get the racist thing. Never did. You have a property for sale. No local wants it. A non-Italian buys it and all hell breaks loose.

The question should be why the hell did the people leave?

As I've mentioned before I like Bensonhurst. I really do. But when I moved there in '83 it made Carroll Gardens in the 60's-70's look down right Bohemian.

March 6, 2013, 12:47 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
people of colt always raise property value
bhurst is chinese toast
March 6, 2013, 9:01 pm
racist from racism says:
video against Chinese.
March 7, 2013, 12:40 am
Bklyncowboy from Gravesend says:
The video is on the money, I just can not reason why people would rumble through your garbage for a nickle bottle or can. It is disgusting and filthy.
March 8, 2013, 1:39 pm
openminded from Bensonhusrt says:
saw the video and they call this woman an icon omg very very offensive to all as stated above btw im italian american also offends my grandmother and others who suffer from dementia
March 9, 2013, 3:40 pm
GeorgeD from Sunset Park says:
These bottle bums are incessant. They may have been at thousand garbage cans before mine---that is a thousand germs deposited on my gate and lids.

It is not racist. It is fact! I can not get my deposit back at Boro Park Pathmark due to an Asian wagon train of cans. Some of them, at the machine, with a couple of thousand at a clip. They have exclusive control of this redemption scheme; I am forced to forego my refund and now must feed the situation by placing them out for collection, in the recycle pail.

Why are these vermin not ticketed, or deported. Were they allowed into this country solely on their bottle-bumming skills??
March 10, 2013, 7:47 pm
eabj from Bay Ridge says:
TY from PPS mentions Bay Ridge. How is that? What do you have against Bay Ridge? This is a very diverse community. You want to put a fence around us so we don't have to deal with each other? I have lived here over 50 years and I don't seek a fence around another community or one around Bay Ridge. What does the "Ice Cream Girl" video have to do with Bay Ridge? It seems like you have other issues (possibly anger) with Bay Ridge folks. Maybe you should rethink your comments. Also, you skipped Dyker Heights which is between Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. Do you want to put a fence around them as well?
March 10, 2013, 8:20 pm
Danny says:
Very very racist!!!! " t’s a sunny day, anybody can wear a hat like that".....Really? You know you're racist, you fat ass!
March 12, 2013, 2:50 am
lola from Queens says:
Stupid white people. How's that?
March 12, 2013, 9:01 pm
ben from brownsville says:
It’s not racial profiling,” said Campanella. “A hat doesn’t distinguish a culture. If it’s a sunny day, anybody can wear a hat like that.”

Except it does distinguish culture nón lá has a 3000 year history

I wonder if Maria “The Ice Cream Girl” Campanella thinks a kilt is just a dress
March 15, 2013, 4:18 am
Vinny g from Bensonhurst says:
Its true these people go through recycling all hours of the night. How come sanitation doesn't break their balls for making a mess but will ticket the homeowner for a dirty sidewalk after these dirty people open all the bags. It is what it is.get over it liberal scum.
April 18, 2013, 12:16 am

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