Mr Whippy – The Great British Institution

When you think of the beach do you picture an Ice Cream van parked up near the sandy shores, serving ice cream in a cone? Well, turns out we’ve got Mr Whippy and America to thank for that.

Mr Whippy can trace its roots back to its Italian, English-born founder Dominic Facchino. His family had been in the ice cream business, but it was a refusal to open a UK franchise from ‘Mister Softee’, the American ice cream truck franchisor, that spurred him to start his own. So in 1958, he opened his own fleet of six ice cream trucks in Birmingham. He gave the trucks a pink and white livery so they would stand out on the roads and made them distinctively British by adopting the traditional English folk song  ‘Greensleeves’ which you can listen to below:

All this proved to be a hit.

By 1961, his fleet grew to 150 vans and even began producing its own Ice Cream mix. The growth in business also saw Mr Whippy extend its reach overseas. In Australia, Mr Whippy spread its vans into every state and by 1966, the business was registered on the Australian Stock Exchange. In neighbouring New Zealand, it went down a storm even more with over 50 vans shuttling around by the end of the 1960’s. By the 80’s, Mr Whippy was restructured into a franchise and the iconic pink and white van livery were replaced by an orange and white colour scheme.

Despite the rise of the home freezer reducing the need for Ice Cream Vans, it’s still a wonderful and nostalgic sight to hear and see one no matter where you are. Mr Whippy is till in operation to this day and long may it continue.

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