March 24, 2016

Will the Dutch lose their favourite ice lolly?

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 7:07 pm

According to BN De Stem, food giant Unilever is pulling the plug on the longest running ice lolly in the Netherlands, the Raket (‘Rocket’).

BN De Stem suggests the Rocket is too Dutch for its own good. Unilever was only producing them for the Dutch market. The company, operating under the Ola brand in the Netherlands and Wall’s and Algida elsewhere, wants to streamline its production of ice cream flavours by reducing them from 450 to 90. As one observer said: “How much more streamlined than a rocket can you get?”

RTL Z claims that the story is an April Fools’ joke, citing “sources within Unilever”. Unlike any other April Fools’ joke I’ve seen, this one doesn’t refer to April however. The original source talks about May instead. Elle smells a rat, because why would a brand ditch a product that sells so well? So I decided to find out for myself, picked up the phone and called Unilever: turns out, their press department is conveniently unavailable for comment during the four-day Easter weekend.

Everybody agrees that if this really is an April Fool’s joke, it’s one of the lamest ever.

If Unilever is really abandoning the Rocket, then you’re in luck. Cheap knock-offs are still being made by competing brands as Z24 helpfully pointed out two years ago .

The news that Unilever is going to discontinue its traditional Dutch treat follows recent news that two major ‘bitterball’ manufacturers, Mora and Van Geloven, are now in foreign hands, and news from 2014 that aniseed cubes were discontinued by De Ruijter because the machine that made them could no longer be kept in repair.

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August 5, 2008

Longest running ice lolly: the Rocket

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 8:34 am

12 April 1961: the Soviet Union launched the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.

1962: Ola launched a new ice lolly, the Raket (Rocket), and it has never (crash) landed since, making it the longest running model. It’s a simple ice lolly, shaped like a rocket, each of the three stages a different(ish) flavour.

The UK factory will produce 35 million Rockets this year, according to an article in daily the Volkskrant (Dutch), presumably hoping each Dutchman will buy two on average. The writer repeats some of the folklore about its popularity that’s been woven around this frozen hit: that the quality is high, that it’s got three good flavours, and so on. I don’t believe in that. I think the main reasons the Rocket has always sold so well is because it barely has any competition, it’s cheap, and it’s sold almost everywhere.

I remember that when we were kids, during the summers my mother, my brothers and I would walk to my uncle’s home in the forest, almost 6 miles from our house. Half-way along our route two old guys had put a refrigerator in their front room from which they sold ice cream to passers-by, and of course we always went for the Rocket because it was right in our price range.

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