Did it taste just as good then?

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.

(by nlgbbbblth)

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33 thoughts on “Did it taste just as good then?

  1. Lisa Carey says:

    Kilimanjaros were a personal favourite. Ah, all the exotic mystery of Africa conjured up by, er, mango ripple ice cream with a weird red candy coating. I was also quite a fan of the “old” Dracula: sinister black icepop with blood red interior. The horror.

    Also I have no memory of ever seeing a Nogger.

    Also, KALKITOS!

    • Oliver Farry says:

      Yeah, Kalkitos. For years I was wondering whether I had imagined them. Nobody else seemed to be remember the things. I feel less isolated now

      • Ms Avery says:

        What are they?

      • Oliver Farry says:

        They were pencil-on transfers – usually of superheroes and cartoon characters. You rubbed over the character with a pen or pencil to stick it to a painted background. I think they might have been Japanese. Very low-tech but I have fond memories of them

      • nlgbbbblth says:

        My Kalkitos phase lasted about a year. Some memorable ones of ancient Egypt and Aztec stuff. I tried to use them sparingly – to make ’em last – but usually couldn’t resist.

    • Martin Walsh says:

      HB hazelbrook farm ice cream in 1976 celebrates its (50th birthday) half century old a year which saw the launch of a 1 litre size tub. Note in 1980 came 2 litre tubs followed by cakes such as Vinnetta in 1984, In 1985 came Slicable litre large then a normal Ice cream carton. In 1990 Carte dor was launched followed by Romatica in 1993.

  2. jymian says:

    I still remember the first time I got a Loop The Loop. Determined to save the chocolate bit until last, I licked very carefully from the bottom up. Yeah, didn’t end so well.

  3. Oliver Farry says:

    Having a Proustian overload here. I had forgotten all about the Chilly Willy and Thataway, which was particularly short-lived, if I remember correctly. The Golly Bar was still with us as late as the early 90s, I think, which even then gave me some pause as to its appropriateness. As for Brunch, when I discovered the Sunday dining variety in the 1990s, I couldn’t help but think it was a bit of an impostor after having associated the word with that pebble-dashed popsicle from a young age.

    • Lisa Carey says:

      Thataways are back! Though they are no longer quite such a lurid red shade, presumably due to EU health and safety legislation.

      Caveat: I have only seen them in that weird mini-market thing that time forgot on Kevin St, where they may well be leftover from the 80s.

  4. Fergal Crehan says:

    “Also I have no memory of ever seeing a Nogger.”

    Me neither. And why, when I can vividly remember eating such old school and short-lived offerings as the Hiawatha, do I have no memory whatsoever of the worrying Jelly Split, the unimpressive Top Hit, or the frankly awesome looking Jumbo?

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      The Jelly Split was weird. Strange and numbing texture. Top Hit was boring – always disappointing. But the Jumbo – yeah. I worked in supermarket in the mid 1980s and the Jumbo was the worst seller in the range.

  5. These days when I open a Loop the Loop or Super Split I always feel so cheated, as they’ve shrunk so much since the ones in the posters here and the shapes have changed to a rocket style where they’re narrow at the top. I’m being scammed out of the top corners. Shenanigans!

    Also, I think Thataway ice pops are back. I’ve seen them recently and thought they were new as I don’t remember them from the first time around. Either that or they’ve just been there since the early Eighties.

  6. fústar says:

    Taste-wise and colour scheme-wise you couldn’t beat a Hiawatha. They were super creamy and delicious. Not sure if flavours captured the fundamental essence of the Iroquois…one wonders who at HB was deemed qualified enough to make that call.

    Witches and Draculas were pretty bog-standard (taste-wise) but the packaging/shape seduced me sufficiently that I overlooked such issues. Horror-themed ice-pops. A fusion of two wonderful elements. How could you resist?

  7. fústar says:

    Just swiped this from Luke Keating’s HB Memories page mentioned above. Not a HB product but talk about being the right ice-pop at the right time in the right market.

    JR

  8. Ms Avery says:

    I could murder a Feast right now.

  9. fústar says:

    What’s that one in the second last picture? Zanzibar?! Another of those Turkish Delight style yokes that was supposed to conjure up taste “visions” of the mysterious East (or darkest Africa, or whatever). Didn’t Edward Said write a lengthy essay on HB?

  10. itsaboodlesylife says:

    I’d forgotten about the Zanzibar and its chocolatey crunchy wondrousness! I remember begging my eldest brother for the price of one. Anyone remember Robin Hoods? They were cheap versions of Chilly willies! My other brother robbed them to order from our local shop! I also adored Fat Frogs but I turned out to be allergic to them, my tongue used to break out in lumps but it was worth it.

  11. Nam Citsale says:

    Jaypers. Can’t access The Facebook so cannot confirm whether my memories of an artefact called Bubble O Bill are verifiable or the hallucinatory reflux of a childhood spent guzzling frigid chemicals on sticks. Essentially a Maxi Twist with a globule of bubble gum poking indecently proud beneath the ice cream. Was there ever a more useless concept for an ice cream,(assuming i’m not in the grip of some psychoactive sugary brainfreeze)? Replace the gum with a Fisherman’s Friend and call it Moby Sick. Think i should pitch that one to the suits at HB? Probably not a good idea. I’ll give ‘Dragon’s Den’ a go, maybe. Anyway, Bubble O Bill, someone please reassure me i’m not sick, twisted AND deluded.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Bubbe O Bill – a play on Buffalo Bill? I don’t remember it but wikipedia mentions one (of Australian origin) that launched around 1985.

      • Nam Citsale says:

        I was unaware of that. The australian version is a good deal more ornate. The one i remember/imagine was a maxi twist style plastic container with a nipple-like capsule on the bottom containing the bubble gum. The lid featured the face of a cartoon cowboy, i think, hence the pun in the name. Early eighties vintage, i seem to associate its appearance with the Shuttle, although it does not appear on the poster above. I’m getting worried now.

  12. Ray McNamara says:

    The Nogger is still on sale in Germany – I thought when I saw them there that they were basically a poor man’s Feast, with vanilla rather than chocolate ice cream, so I’m surprised to see they were actually sold in Ireland in the pre-Feast days of the early 80s.

    Interestingly, Langese (analogous to HB in Germany) advertised many of the products shown above with the following 2 minute commercial back in the 80s:

    Your eyes do not deceive you at 0:38 – that gentleman DOES attempt to initiate an indecent act with his lady friend using a That-A-Way.

  13. Cacamilis says:

    I destroyed my Communion dress with a Little Devil – I have forgotten they had a bit of brown flavoured crust on them .
    JRs were amazing and Icebergers.
    Thanks for the memories !

    • fústar says:

      “I destroyed my Communion dress with a Little Devil”

      Man, there’s a whole story – a whole *world* – in that one line.

      • Cacamilis says:

        Innocent times ….
        The frock was bought in a mad panic the evening before as the shops shut in Sligo town. No such thing as fancy kiddie boutiques then . It was probably tried on in the aisle of some grotty shop with everyone gawking at me despite the mantra “No-one is looking at you”.
        There was also no money to be made on the Big Day as no-one had any money then. So getting money to head up a country road to buy an ice lolly was a big deal.
        Another time I dropped a liquorice pipe on the way home from the sweet shop having agonised over my choices. My mother and I walked back the road and found the path near a dead cat. There were no germs in those days.

  14. Cacamilis says:

    I mean pipe of course.

  15. kirstie McDermott says:

    +1 on Kalkitos mention.

    Also, your total recall is terrifying, awesome and amazing. Do you have diaries to assist you, are you the borg or just brilliant with your brain?

  16. […] Perhaps, given Ireland’s catastrophic economic situation, it’s inevitable that the first appearance at an international tournament in ten years would be greeted with Proustian evocations of halcyon days under Jack Charlton. And maybe it’s not so surprising that an ice cream advert is one of the more notable vehicles for this nostalgia. (Fellow SotB contributor Oliver Farry has written comprehensively about Irish ice cream here.) […]

  17. […] loved Scribblers. Of course, I loved all of the HB ice-pops: Sparkles and Fat Frogs and Super Splits and Tangle Twisters and the Brunches I gorged on once a year when my uncle came back from the UK, laden down with disposable income and […]

  18. […] unusual experiences. For me, ice cream is tied into these memories which I previously set out in Did It Taste Just As Good Then?. As I grew older, music started to form party of that experience too. On 15 August 1981 my family […]

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