It was August 1977. Elvis was still alive. We were on our annual family holiday and like the previous summer, Duncannon was the location.
Back then a Chilly Willy or L’il Devil was the usual cooling-down tipple for my sister and me; either could be had for a mere 4p. My parents tended to avoid the ice lollies and instead were happy with a Choc Ice or a Brunch.
One day I decided that I wanted proper grown-up ice cream. There was only one problem – the newsagents at the bottom of Duncannon’s main street was sold out of Choc Ices. Instead I was offered this:
The first few bites tasted funny and eating the chocolate exterior was a little tricky as the pieces kept sliding off and on to my t-shirt. But dogged persistence paid off and I got to the end – licking the stick with a sense of accomplishment.
In those formative years holidays abroad were very much the exception and only affordable for a handful of people in the town. Like many others our annual getaway brought us to such far-flung places as Inchydoney, Courtown Harbour, Bundoran and Slea Head. One or two weeks of mostly sunshine, daily strolls from our chalet or guesthouse to the adjoining beach and plenty from the ice cream freezer. Back then HB were the main attraction with the likes of Dale Farm a trivial sideshow. Every summer brought a new marketing campaign, a fresh poster with a mixture of old reliables and some fresh débutantes to keep the customers happy.
1979 saw four new offerings. The anodyne Mini Milk, the clumsy-sounding Frogurt, the delightful Nogger and the marvellously exotic Cornetto. At 20p this was an infrequent indulgence. We hit West Cork that year and the sensible / affordable choice was the plain yet tasty Golly Bar. I was also discovering Enid Blyton around the same time so the wrapper struck a chord with me.
We went back to the same place in 1980. Rain drove us into Clonakility one afternoon and into a newsagents to pick up a new Kalkitos. I had caught the action transfer buzz some months earlier and was eager to add to my collection. But what was this? A new and unusual looking ice cream stared back at me. It was the Hiawatha – a hybrid of lemon, vanilla and chocolate in the style of an Indian headdress. A genius move by HB and from a taste perspective, a most delicious concoction.
We stayed in our own county for 1981 and made the 40 mile trip to Courtown on 15 August. This was to be our destination for three years – a busy spot with a decent beach and an exciting amusement venue.
By now HB added a third variety of Cornetto to the range – the mint option – along with two other popular strawberry-fuelled treats.
Funny Feet: the original Freaky Foot.
That-A-Way was a rich ice lolly that once unwrapped could be utilised as a rude gesture. Until it started to melt about 30 seconds later.
I turned 10 in 1982 so my parents increased my weekly pocket money. Just as well – Jumbo had arrived.
Jumbo was a wallet-buster. It was the most expensive item in the range and retailed at a staggering 50p. But it was amazing – completely encased in chocolate with a sweet oatmeal biscuit underneath that stored a thick slab of vanilla ice cream. It wasn’t the hottest of summers so I was able to exist by forking out for one every two or three days and foregoing other confectionery pleasures.
1983 was a different story – July and August were relentless with sunshine which meant that we were constantly parched. From a financial perspective it was easiest to revert to icepops. Enter Dracula and its “mixed fruit” creation that made for a refreshing shot of citric acid and flavouring.
1984 was another scorcher. Two Tribes went to number one in June. We spend most of July visiting the circuit of beaches in Wexford – Duncannon, Booley Bay, Dollar Bay and Carnivan. Top Of The Pops every Thursday night to see Holly Johnson and co. Two heavy-hitters got added to the range – Fat Frog and Feast – the ultimate chocolate ice cream indulgence. Fat Frogs were marketed with a groovy rock’n’roll advert.
Two Tribes stayed at number one until August. I bought a different version for each of the nine weeks. It was dethroned by George Michael’s Careless Whisper in the UK with Neil’s Hole In My Shoe doing the honours over here. Poor old Nigel only lasted a week at pole position before Two Tribes went back on top.
Three years later and we arrived in Lahinch. Tangle Twisters were the new kids on the block, Golly Bars were still hanging in there while Jumbos had been axed due to poor sales. Inflation had driven the top price to 65p. Spotting a gap in the market, HB decided to launch a luxury cornetto. There were two additional choices – Tutti Frutti and Choco Rico – while the mint version was quietly dropped.
Tutti Frutti was the clear winner – rich, creamy and bursting with er, fruit. The drawback – the aforementioned 65p. But by then I had a proper summer job in a supermarket and could afford one every day if I wanted. However my tastes were changing and the music bug had well and truly gripped me. Ice cream had been supplanted in my affections by vinyl.
Postscript: the answer is “Yes it does.”
The posters and wrappers are taken from Luke Keating’s HB Ice Cream Memories Facebook page.
I urge everybody to “like”. Sincere thanks is extended to Luke for granting permission to use this wonderful collection of memorabilia.