A Brief History of Mr Whippy

Mr Whippy’s Beginnings in the UK:

  • Dominic Facchino is accredited with starting Mr Whippy. From Italian decent but born in England, Dominic was excited having visited the US in 1958 and having seen the “Mr Softee” ice cream trucks in operation. His family were from an ice cream background and he was denied the UK franchise for Mr Softee so set up his own business, “Mr Whippy” in 1958 with a pilot of 6 vans in Birmingham, UK.
  • Mr Softee was blue and white so Mr Whippy became pink and cream and the Greensleeves tune adopted.
  • Carpigiani supplied the soft serve machines and the first Mr Whippy ice cream mix was supplied by an Englishman, Ernest Pacitto.
  • Thanks to successful franchising, by 1961 there were 150 Mr Whippy vans on the road in England and another 175 in the pipeline. Mr Whippy had even commenced manufacturing its own ice cream mix buying a small ice cream company.
  • In 1966 Walls Ice Cream acquired 100% of Mr Whippy and it remains in their ownership today (Walls / Unilever). Walls supply the Mr Whippy ice cream mix.

Overseas:

  • In 1962, 10 Mr Whippy vans left South Hampton and arrived in Sydney in October of 1962.
  • In 1963 a second batch of 24 vans arrived and spread into every Australian state.
  • Mr Whippy even listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1966.
  • The 1970’s proved to be the Company’s most high profile time in Australia. In 1987 it was delisted and is now owned by Stan Gordon from Melbourne.
  • As well as the UK/Ireland and Australia, Mr Whippy commenced in the early 1960’s on the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca. The vans did well but are not in existence today.

And in New Zealand

  • Early in 1964, having had success in Australia, Dominic Facchino decided to also enter the New Zealand market on a master franchised basis.
  • General Foods Limited (subsequently became Tip Top and then a subsidiary of Fonterra) was the dominant supplier of ice cream in New Zealand and acquired the master franchise rights for NZ.
  • 24 vans (pink and cream) were constructed in the UK and shipped from Birmingham in time for the summer of 1964.
  • General Foods were supplying the ice cream mix and the early ice cream machines were the Carpigiani.
  • The public response to Mr Whippy in New Zealand was phenomenal and the fleet quickly grew to 50 company run vans by the end of the 1960’s. The Mr Whippy vans were beautiful Austins and the same as in the UK coloured pink and white.
  • In the early 1980’s, Mr Whippy was restructured as a franchise system (rather than company run) in New Zealand by Tip Top (having changed its name from General Foods) basing its franchise system (owner / operator drivers) on exclusive territories around the country. By this stage the Isuzu Elf had become the standard Mr Whippy van and an orange and white colour scheme replacing the pink and white.
  • In the early 2000’s, Tip Top exited Mr Whippy and divested the Master Franchise to Peter Woodhams who had the Waikato Mr Whippy franchise at the time as well. Peter and his son Chris ran the business for around 5 years.
  • The Woodhams in turn sold the Master Franchise to the Graham family in 2006 who moved the Mr Whippy vans into Ford Transits and moved from Fonterra to Tatua as the provider of the Mr Whippy ice cream mix.
  • Chris Dorn and a group of shareholders bought the Master Franchise on 1 November 2012 and are reinvigorating the special piece of New Zealand by adding more vans to the fleet and opening a number of fixed stores around New Zealand.