INTERVIEW WITH THE INVENTOR OF THE GOLDEN GAYTIME (CONT.)
John informs me that for every Golden Gaytime success story there were another ten ice creams left splattered on the factory floor.
"There's dozens of them we went through. They brought one out called the Aniseed High Top. It was a delightful thing to eat but any white clothes it marked, so that didn't last too long. A delightful ice cream we called the South Pacific as they'd brought out the movie and everyone was going troppo about it so we brought out this half banana half something else and that failed within three weeks. Our greatest delight was to manufacture dandy cups of ice cream and raisins with a hard dosing of rum. They were pretty well over proof ice cream. They used to have them after the RSL Anzac Day marches but unfortunately one year they got mixed up and a lot of them ended up in the Country Women's Association. They didn't order them next year."
While for many of us working in an ice cream factory sounds like a dream job, John speaks of an intense workload. During summer, when production was at its highest, he would sometimes work around the clock, sleeping at the factory. This was on top of the constant pressure to come up with the next 'hit.'
"When you've got to sit down and come up with a new ice cream every three months it's a bit daunting. We used to go out to the schools and talk to the kids. You'd produce a line, take it out to the primary school, line up all the infants and say 'well what do you think of that?' Try and get an opinion out of them. They liked anything free anyway so it was a bit of a lost argument."
After about a decade, John left the dairy game to work in other areas of food production. While he can still enjoy an ice cream, life has delivered an ironic fate.
"I'm not supposed to have them because I'm diabetic. I still go three or four a week. There's a wrapper under the front seat of the car I think. I've got to hide them from the wife. I bought a Golden Gaytime the other day and they're pretty thin so they must be making their profit out of it. They used to be a larger wedge, a heavier weight in ice cream, so maybe it's only half gay."
John isn't able to shed much light on how the name came about. He says it was the result of a 'toss-around' by the advertising company at the time.
"How it related to ice cream I never knew but it sounded all right at the time. I think the name is the thing that keeps it going. Everybody looks at one now and oh, I don't know what their movements are but there's nothing gay about the bloody ice cream I can tell you that. I suppose if you made an ice cream called a virgin ice cream it might sell like hell as well. The lesbian fruit-choc or something like that."
In the late '90s Streets brought out the Chocolate Golden Gaytime and one in a cone. To me both were like eating a pot plant.
"That's the variations by bad management. It's how far you can push a name. To me, a Holden's a Holden and a Gaytime's a Gaytime. You bring a Holden out as a Vauxhall Vectra, it's lost the name again. If you bring out another ice cream that's not quite the same as the original Gaytime people will go off it. There was a Cherry Golden Gaytime but that didn't last. We tried fudge in one at one stage."
At this point I remind myself that I'm listening to a man talk matter of factly about packing fudge into a Golden Gaytime, right after comparing them with cars. I finish the interview by thanking John for creating my favourite ice cream, which raises a wry smile. For him the Golden Gaytime is just another ice cream on another stick, but for generations of Australians it is a socially complicated but ultimately rewarding love affair of yum.
Justin performs as The Bedroom Philosopher and writes for Frankie, Jmag and The Big Issue www.bedroomphilosopher.com