A while back I was contacted by the inventor of the Golden Gaytime's 'people' after hearing my song on triple j. While in Adelaide I arranged an interview with him. It was bumped by Frankie because Streets claimed they hadn't heard of the guy. Here is part one of the story:
Most of us have had a Golden Gaytime moment. You're at the milk bar, clutching Australia's most iconic ice cream. The shopkeeper eyeballs you. At the last minute you lose your nerve and end up grabbing milk, bread and a newspaper with the yellow sliver tucked sheepishly underneath. You race out of the shop and down an alley. You rip off the wrapper and bite into the delicious soft combo of toffee and biscuit crumbs, free from retribution. Being a long-term fan of the treat with the timeless design and hilarious name, I once wrote a song about it that got played on the radio. I was contacted by the creator's 'people' saying that he'd like a copy. I obliged, asking in return to interview the mysterious John Milton at his home in Adelaide. In a brilliant twist, the creator of the Golden Gaytime turns out to be the most laidback Aussie bloke I've ever met. With silver hair, stern expression and laconic humour, the man who now runs a car spray-boothing business sits poolside chain smoking and speaking matter-of-factly about ice cream production.
"Back in the late '60s they were really experimenting to see what people wanted. The Golden Gaytime was based on an ice cream that was vanilla with a chocolate coating on it. When the ice cream was removed from the mould and still warm we tried to apply the remnants of peanuts left over from Max Noblet's (Nobby's) peanut factory in Adelaide. It used to stick in your teeth so that wasn't too good. For a fleeting time we started to apply coco pops or rice bubbles. That didn't work either."
When John realised that broken biscuit pieces were being thrown out at the factory down the road, he made a connection.
"We supplied a lot of butter oil for their Yo-Yo biscuits. It was a matter of the driver coming back and saying 'what are they gonna do with all those waste biscuits?' So I said 'let's take a look at it.'"
The biscuit pieces were then blown onto the warm chocolate giving us the ice cream we know today. In this sense the Golden Gaytime was eco-friendly well before its time.
"It was all experimental. We were just fiddling with food. We used to go and play in the laboratories and see what we could mess up next. We had two doctors in there and yeah, it was fun. It kept you thinking."
When I first contacted John, his tone was one of bemusement that the Golden Gaytime could have had such a lasting impact. Throughout the interview he is defiantly modest about his iced legacy.
"The Gaytime just evolved. It wasn't anything special at the time that you'd beat drums about. It was just another ice cream on another stick. You know, the humdrum of what you do daily it wasn't anything we thought was gonna save the world, it was just bringing out another line. Understand what the people want and give it to them. We were happy when we produced a line that was successful. You couldn't sit back there and pamper with your ego, all you did was get on and produce the next line. I don't think it was so much pride as intrigue. It was only supposed to last three months."
To be concluded...
Justin performs as The Bedroom Philosopher and writes for Frankie, Jmag and The Big Issue www.bedroomphilosopher.com