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1850s Ice cream served in re-usable glass ‘penny-lick’

1888 First edible cone invented by Agnes B Marshall

1906 Ice cream sold from horse- drawn carts

1923 Walls introduces the first ice cream trike

1926 Penny-licks banned for health & hygiene reasons

the director of Smiths, which supplied vans to the ice cream company Lyons, spotted an opportunity to sell soft serve ice cream in the UK. Just a year later, Mister Softee vans, which cost £3,200, made an appearance in the UK. They operated under the banner of Smith & Lyons – the delivery van company and the UK ice cream brand had formed a partnership. In those days, £3,200 was a lot

of money to spend on a van – you could buy a house for less! Still, there was clearly an opportunity because Lyons eventually made Smiths a generous offer for their 61% share in the business. Before long, though, Lyons would have competition. In 1961 Walls, another famous UK ice cream brand, set up Mr Whippy in competition.

Fast forward to now With summer here, we all look forward to an ice cream but the number of vans on the road has fallen dramatically over the past few decades. There are several reasons for this: Competition - In recent years,

Toughing it Out

Scottish entrepreneur, Duncan Bannatyne - most well-known for his appearance on Dragons’ Den - clearly saw the commercial appeal of owning an ice cream van. In the

1970s, having had enough of doing the paper run and taxi driving, Duncan bought an ice cream van for £450. Running this business required dragon-like resolve; Duncan has described the business of selling ice cream as “notoriously tough, with rival companies sometimes muscling in, even attacking you”. But he was willing to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, which meant he could buy more vans – he eventually sold that business for £28,000.

1947 Walls sells 3,300 trikes and invests in freezers for shops

1959 US soft-serve ice cream arrives in London

1961 Walls introduces Mr Whippy in competition

2013 Sheffield

supermarket sales of cheap ice cream and cones have undercut sales. The weather - We all love an

ice lolly in mid-August heat, but let’s face it we can’t guarantee our British weather! Healthy eating – Government

has been concerned about rising levels of obesity which could mean families are eating less ice cream – though we think there is absolutely nothing wrong with an ice cream treat as part of a balanced diet! ■

COLD WAR In April, Sheffield’s city council approved an emissions- reducing plan that would force ice cream vendors to buy a new van every five years at cost of around £60,000. This would put many out of business, including Sheffield’s oldest - the 138-year-old Granellis. If this happens, and other councils follow, this could be the death of the ice cream van.


county council says vans must be replaced

every five years

fresh young millionaire


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