Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sealtest Ice Cream (late 1950's)

Good morning!

I was doing my routine run through mid century Life magazines, a particularly cute one with by beloved Kim Novak on the cover, when these OH MY GOODNESS adorable little guys caught my eye in an ad for Sealtest Ice Cream. We got 'cher mountain-like blob of sherbet, check! We got your pink and lime green color scheme, check! And best of all, little fifities' bunnies gallivanting arround the scene exhorting us to "Dig this crazy mixed up ice cream!" Yeah, man! YEAH! Let's take a look:

Hi, bunnies! What's that? You want me to eat raspberry/vanilla/orange-pineapple ice cream? How did you know that was my heart's fondest wish? Ice cream for breakfast? If it was good enough for Mabel Normand, it's good enough for me! I had dry toast and coffee and man am I regretting my decision. Bab, let's stock the freezer with these bad boys! The Polynesian exoticism of the flavor combination sold me even before Bunny #2 yelled "It's the greatest!" and Bunny #3 added, "Man, it's real cool!"

I can't lie, I was even more excited when I realized the bunnies seeam to be made of strawberry-flavored cake mix. Or possibly strawberry-flavored cookie dough mix? I hope such a thing exists, because I just got R-E-A-L-L-Y hungry for some. "Here it is again!" says the rabbit, and I'm reading a little resignedness into the heel-clicking he's doing.

Sealtest Ice Cream's company history was surprisingly hard to look up. From what I understand, it was owned by National Dairy Products Corporation (which later became KRAFT Foods), and it was delicious. And people miss it! Unilever (who also owns Breyers') bought the rights to the company in 1993, but based on the number of Google results that include the words "demolished in" and "does anyone remember", I don't think it survived into the millennium. What a shame...seeing as I am all kinds of Sealtest ice-cream craving right now.

Like a lot of novelty fifties' food advertisements, I was interested to see how many weird (and wonderful) flavor combinations there were at one time. Vanilla fudge royale, butter almond, cherry vanilla...check out this graphic for "sunkissed peach"!
In spite of the sun-on-peach lip lock, I love that most of the ads in the fifties' are bright, colorful bids at grabbing children's attention. Because, really, as much as we love ice cream as adults, do you remember what it was like to love ice cream as kid? Before you quite understood what calories were? Here are some buttons from a 1956 Sealtest-sponsored TV show "Big Top" advertisement. The copy invites you to head for the Sealtest "Cone-vention" at the Sealtest fountain. So I think there were soda fountains that were exclusively Sealtest-stocked? There was one at Disney World in the sixties', but that's as far as I could get with that one, too. My Google research skills are really failing me today.

Which one do you want? I'll take the seal and the chimpanzee.

In 1957, Sealtest held a contest in which one lucky winner would end up with a year's supply of ice cream (can you even imagine!) for re-naming the accurately yet awkwardly named "Banana-Strawberry" combination. I'm not a fan of banana practically at all (except maybe in oatmeal or by itself), but I was intrigued by their little mascot at the bottom left hand corner:

Banana Strawberry man! You remind me so much of Art Clokey's style. I love you. I hope they found a name for you, because I sure couldn't find the results of the contest online. Folks, I am batting zero.

"Gay 90's Toffee Fudge" is another already-combined-ice-cream-combination I wish was still around. See the beautiful milk glass dishes these revelled little ice cream concoctions are being served in. How am I even going to make it to lunch looking at all this goodness? I love the pink gingham of the box and the little 1890's soda shop men. Why wouldn't I?

I just want a huge print of this hanging over my sofa:

I like the idea of a "try-pack" in which you could give each of these ice cream flavors a shot without committing to a full carton. Not a huge fan of orange, but maybe with the pineapple? And raspberry, a thousand times raspberry! My grandaddy used to call Neapolitan ice cream "Napoleon" ice cream or, even better, would holler out the door before my grandma and I departed for Kroger's "HAZEL! GET ME SOMMA THAT THREE-WAY ICE CREAM!" I wish I'd written down half of what he used to say, he really had the most endearingly insane way of talking. I miss hearin' him.

Last but not least, the craziest thing I've ever heard of:

"Plum Nuts" is the flavor here. You take plums, you add nuts, and you get this completely ill-advised ice cream flavor. Has anyone ever had something like this? Because if I'm wrong, I'm wrong...but somehow I doubt it. I applaud the adorable wire figure man with almonds for eyes and plum nose, but I just can't get behind this aberration of wholesome taste.

Had any good ice cream lately? Do YOU remember Sealtest brand? Is it still around? Wanna go get some? :)

I've got to go find somewhere in the downtown area that serves ice cream ((hangs head guiltily)) . I'll see you tomorrow!


  1. I have never heard of Sealtest - not the most consumer friendly name in a world so full of "branding." As someone who is so lactose intolerant that just looking at ice cream makes my stomach hurt, I would be thrilled to have any of these - even Plum Nuts!!!

    1. Ha ha! I'm now thinking about a plucky little seal trying to pass the SATs. They could have capitalized on that idea!

  2. oh goodness! how good does that toffee fudge look? the fudge stripes are just beautiful! i just had some ole charley's caramel pie ice cream, and it was pretty spectacular, but i would trade it in for any of those sealtest flavors!

    1. I now want caramel pie ice cream. I think I'd forgotten how freakin' amazing different ice cream flavors can be! This is a potentially dangerous situation. I'm not sure if they still make sealtest, because I keep hearing on different websites about local Sealtest dairies, etc, etc. We have to keep the dream alive!

  3. Aww, I sure do dig that crazy mixed-up ice cream!! Being a complete sucker for both anthropomorphic animals and ice cream, I am in love with these Sealtest ads. By the way, have you ever come across the book "Meet Mr. Product"? It's fantastic to flip through, a compilation of neat midcentury advertising characters.

    1. Those cake-batter monkeys in the first ad remind me of Maynard G. Krebs...I'll have to check out that book, thanks for the hot tip!

  4. I remember Sealtest 'cause I'm old. I want to know what the winning name was! Oh and I would eat every one of those flavors, even the plum nuts. Yum nuts. ,)

  5. Oh it was fabulous ice cream. Every flavor. Have not seen it in years. Big plant in Milwaukee at one time.

  6. Oh it was fabulous ice cream. Every flavor. Have not seen it in years. Big plant in Milwaukee at one time.

  7. Wow Sealtest Ice Cream,I use to be a Sealtest distributor back in the 60's,70's and 80's then big business bought them and discontinued selling the product because they made more money selling the Breyer's label at double the price.The quality,texture& taste of Sealtest products were the bomb !!!!! Their vanilla ice cream was the best and vanilla fudge and all the rest were not far behind



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