A name you will have grown up hearing, the good ole Mr. Whippy is the UK’s summer mascot. He’s been there to cool you down and cheer you up over those blasting hot two-week heatwaves we are so accustomed to having here in the UK.
In his wafer cone form, this sweet treat has been enjoyed in rain or shine with or without a flake for years and years and I think it’s about time he gets some recognition. So, join me in this article as we look into his story and discover the complete history of Mr. Whippy.
Who invented Mr. Whippy ice cream?
Take yourselves back to 1958. Prince Charles receives his Prince of Wales title, Blue Peter is broadcasted for the first time and a certain ice cream is born – and it was all thanks to a British businessman called Dominic Facchino and a trip he took to the US. It was after this visit that he set up his Birmingham-based Mr. Whippy franchise. But what happened on this trip that was so influential?
Soft-serve ice cream, that’s what. Facchino saw how successful the Mister Softee franchise was doing by selling ice cream from ice cream vans and became inspired. He was unable to licence the Mister Softee brand here in the UK so took matters into his own hands and set up his own under the Mr. Whippy name, starting with a fleet of six vans.
A number of other people were involved in the Mr. Whippy set-up including the Italian company Carpigiani who supplied the equipment and Englishman, Ernest Pacitto who took care of the ice cream mix.
By 1951, thanks to successful franchising, there were 150 Mr. Whippy vans out on the road in England with another prospective 175 in the pipeline. At this time, Mr. Whippy was now also manufacturing its own ice cream mix after buying a smaller ice cream company.
In 1966, it then caught the eye of the ice cream company Walls and remains in their ownership to this day.
To find out more about the development of the ice cream van, read our history of the ice cream van article.
How’d you get a name like that?
To compete with their rival Mister Softee, a similar name was chosen to stay in the market and gain the same level of attention. There were other obvious similarities too, for example Mister Softee vans were blue and white so Mr. Whippy’s vans became pink and cream.
Now, I didn’t think there would be any connection between these two British icons, but it seems there is. Yes, Maggie Thatcher is claimed to have been involved in the invention of Mr. Whippy. But is it true?
Well, soft-serve ice cream, AKA Mister Softee, had already made its way over to the UK and the technology to serve such a treat had been developed by the British business J Lyons and Company. They were at the forefront of this new trend and acquired the Mister Softee brand in 1960 – it’s here where Maggie Thatcher comes into the picture.
Working as a food research scientist at J Lyons, Thatcher is rumoured to have developed emulsifiers for ice-creams. However, there is no actual concrete evidence that she actually assisted in the creation or invention of the product but, rumours or not, we are still going to thank her for her service to the ice cream industry! Imagine what our lives would be without it!
Mr. Whippy Worldwide
Take a nineteen-plus-hour flight and you can arrive in Australia or New Zealand, which seems to be the second home of our beloved frozen dessert.
In 1962, Mr. Whippy vans made their way over to Australia and shortly after in 1964, New Zealand as well. It wasn’t long until fleets were sold to private operators throughout both countries.
Mr. Whippy still exists and is offered and enjoyed in both to this day. It looks like he isn’t just a hit in the UK, he’s pretty popular on the opposite side of the world too!
The last stop
This sugar sensation has made his mark on many of us all over the world. Just hearing the name Mr. Whippy promises you hot days and happiness. I want to know how you enjoy your Mr. Whippy, flake or no flake?
There is no denying that ice cream is one of the nation’s favourite desserts, to find out how it originated check out our guide on the complete history of ice cream.
If you are looking to get your own ice cream van to create your very own Mr. Whippy's take a read of our Ice Cream Vans FAQs guide.
Last but not least, you will also want to ensure you have the correct insurance, Lexham Insurance can supply you with Ice Cream Van Insurance to suit you and your business.