Wednesday, 12 July 2017

THE 'ORRIBLE 'OUSE OF TERRIBLE OLD TAT #19 - Ice Lollies - the No Strings Attached Years!

Welcome once again dear fiends to the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat! And while summer is still here (well, as much as it ever is in Britain), we are continuing our explorations of the contents of chiller cabinets from years gone by! Now then, in recent raids to the cryogenic vaults of the 'Orrible Old 'Ouse... well, some old cardboard boxes at any rate... we've previously uncovered some SF tie-in lollies of yesteryear. However allying your lollies with a popular brand is nothing new...

Now the British frozen snack market was dominated by two titans, twin colossi of the chiller cabinets. One was Walls, whose Sky Rays and Dalek's Death Ray lollies we have already encountered. The other however was Lyons Maid, whose long-serving logo of three children performing some strange ritual dance, presumably to summon up an ice cream van, still lingers in the minds of men as a potent occult symbol meaning "ice lollies sold here".
"And oh how they danced... the little children of the ice cream van..." 

And way back at the dawn of the Ice Lolly Wars,  Lyons Maid very quickly got in on the tie-in gimmick. However they had their own spin on it, for rather than doing a promotion that tie-in an existing lolly to something popular (as Walls' Sky Ray had done with it's Doctor Who campaigns) instead they launched a pair of lollies directly tied to popular properties. These were the Zoom and the Seajet, the official icy snacks for Fireball XL5 and Stingray respectively. A few years later they would repeat the same trick again with more lollies twinned with various Gerry Anderson puppet series. Hence in 1967, came a Thunderbirds lolly, the Fab, which was priced at 6d, and consisted of strawberry fruit ice and vanilla ice cream, with a top dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands.

Of course, there were the usual promotional campaigns to accompany these ice-cold treats too. You could collect wrappers and get models of the famous vehicles from the show - collecting Zooms got you a miniature Fireball XL5, while Seajet wrappers could net you your very own Airfix model of Stingray. Additionally often the lollies came with colourful cars to collect, with Zoom first offering cards featuring Steve Zodiac and co., but offering Thunderbirds cards in the later '60s.

Then in 1968, they launched a Captain Scarlet lolly called Orbit - this one was a tad more expensive at 9d, and was pretty much a re-tooled Zoom, but flavoured chocolate and orange. Meanwhile the Zoom lolly itself got yet another puppet partner, and was tied into Joe 90!

However it is interesting to note that several of these breeds of lolly outlived the properties they were launched to cash in on, with the likes of Zooms, Orbits and Fabs eventually dropping their puppet pal brandings, and would populate the chiller cabinets as brands in their own right for several years to come. 

Possibly this might explain why the bosses at Lyons Maids - who I still suspect were actually the slightly sinister trio of dancing children on the logo - decided to not create anymore closely branded lollies for quite some time. Instead they concentrated on making lollies in ever more inventive flavours with names like Cornish Treasure, Red Devil and Apple Jack.  However in the late '70s, this trend for branded lollies would return bigger and better... But that's a tale for another day... 

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