Ice Cream and Vans, Their History!

Ice Cream and Vans

‘Stop me and buy one!’ We have all experienced the joy of buying a delicious ice cream or lolly from an ice cream van, but when did this tradition begin? The history of ice cream and vans is rooted with the Victorians. Read on to discover how the tradition of buying an ice cream from a street vendor began!

Hokey Pokey Sellers

In England, the first recording of anyone enjoying ice cream is Charles II and his lucky guests in 1672. The location for this momentous event, Windsor Castle, at a Feast of St. George banquet! Ice cream needed to be served immediately, as no suitable storage facilities existed, therefore, it remained an exceedingly rare delicacy for a couple of centuries, enjoyed by the elite only.

In 1847, Carlo Gatti, a Swiss born immigrant, came to Britain. Italian speaking Gatti, took residence in Holborn’s Little Italy, in London. He first started selling waffles and chestnuts from a stall. In 1849, he opened a café and restaurant specialising in chocolate and ice cream! He is therefore credited as being the first to make ice cream available to the general public. Gatti established a contract with the Regent’s Canal Company for the import of ice, enabling him to expand. He opened a stall in Hungerford Market where people could buy a penny’s worth of ice cream, served in a glass or shell, known as a ‘penny lick’.

Soon, ice cream vendors appeared across London, selling their wares from wheeled carts. The sellers, mainly Italian in descent, often cried out, ‘Gelati ecco un pocco’ (‘ice cream, here’s a little bit’), which became corrupted into the term ‘hokey pokey’! As popularity for this treat expanded across Britain, Hokey Pokey sellers began to appear in more and more cities!

‘Stop Me and Buy One’

Penny licks proved popular, but very unhygienic! The glasses often got washed in dirty water before the next customer used it or wiped with an equally questionable dirty cloth. As a result, customers often found themselves falling ill after indulging in this frozen treat. Indeed, an interesting article on The Victorian Web, describes just how bad ice cream could be for you. A London council medical officer discovered ‘cocci, bacilli, torulae, cotton fibres, lice, bed bugs, bug’s legs, fleas, straw, human hair and cat and dog hair’ in samples taken! Consequently, in 1898, a law, banning the use of ‘penny licks’ passed in parliament.

Fortunately, a wonderful culinary entrepreneur, Mrs. Agnes Marshall, included a recipe for edible cones in her book, Fancy Ices of 1894. The cones soon became an exceedingly popular way to enjoy an ice cream!

In 1923, Wall’s Ice cream introduced the first mobile ice cream sellers, using bicycles! Cecil Rodd, of Walls, came up with the slogan ‘Stop me and Buy One’, a phrase still often seen today on modern ice cream vans! These distinctive bicycles increased sales for Walls from £13, 719 in 1924, to £444,000 by 1927!

During the Second World War, ice cream manufacture naturally declined. The tricycles, used to sell ice cream, became requisitioned by the army for use at military installations. Walls sold 3,300 bikes in 1947 and turned their attention to stocking freezers in shops instead.


In 1945, Westye Bakke, of Wisconsin, USA, invented the first electrical Freezer. Before this invention, ice cream was stored in insulated cabinets surrounded by blocks of ice. Due to the impact of World War II, general distribution of freezers to the public stalled until the late 1950s, early 1960s. Working class families, however, could not often afford the luxury of owning a freezer. The introduction of ice cream vans, therefore, ensured they did not go without this delicious sweet treat!

In 1956, the first ice cream van selling soft whip ice cream appeared in West Philadelphia, America. In 1958, Dominic Facchino, having visited America and seeing the success of Mister Softee, established Mr. Whippy in Birmingham. These Mr. Whippy ice cream vans quickly became a nationwide success. The following year, Mister Softee vans began trading in the U.K., as franchises.  The link between ice cream and vans had established!


As the popularity of the ice cream van grew, vendors realised they could attract more customers by playing a catchy tune. The jingles often reflected local folk songs, for example Greensleeves in Britain and Pop Goes the Weasel in America. The jingles became associated with different vendors and became very distinctive. Nowadays, some may think them outdated, but they still have a nostalgic place in many people’s hearts.

Flake 99

Probably the most famous treat associated with an ice cream van is the Flake 99. Many believed it achieved this title from its price of 99p, but this is not the case. The Flake 99 first appeared in 1922 and certainly did not cost 99p, more like 1d! Cadbury’s state that the reason for the term has been lost in time, however there are a couple of theories. The first is that it started in Portobello, Scotland, when Stephen Arcari, who owned a shop on 99 Portobello High Street, broke a flake in half and stuck it into an ice cream. The name came from the shop’s address and became adopted by a Cadbury’s employee. The second is the guard of an Italian King consisted of 99 men, thereby associating the number with anything first class! Whatever the reason, the Flake 99 remains a popular choice for many!

Ice Cream Vans

The 1950s and 60s certainly heralded the glory days for the ice cream van. In the 1960s, some 30,000 vans existed in Britain. As freezers became more commonplace, however, ice cream vans diversified to sell more novelty ice creams and popsicles, like Fab and rocket lollies. Although their cheerful chimes can still be heard occasionally around the streets on a warm summer’s day, ice cream vans have declined significantly. Now more associated with carnivals and festivals, there are estimated to be just 5,000 classic ice cream vans in the UK to date. So, next time you hear the cheerful call of the ice cream van, why not go out and treat yourself to a bit of nostalgia?

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we hope you have enjoyed reading about the history of ice cream vans. We are passionate about celebrating nostalgia and have a wide range of gifts available on our website all celebrating the 20th Century. We are also thrilled to be in the top 50 blogs to read on Feedspot!







How To Create A Bar At Home

How To Create A Bar At Home?

There is a growing trend for home bars. Making a pub in your basement, living area, a converted garage, or a summerhouse, is the ideal way to entertain family and friends. Whether you use it for parties, to watch the sport, play cards or just to escape the rigmarole of life, it is important your bar feels authentic! This blog is intended to give ideas and guidance on how to create a bar at home!

Location, Location, Location

The first thing you need to decide, is where to build your bar/pub. Do you have a spare room that is never used? Perhaps you are going to convert your garage? Do you have a summerhouse that is crying out to be utilised? Maybe you are just looking to add a small bar to a lounge or dining room? The good news, there are designs and ideas to suit each of these locations! Big or small, you can create a pub/ bar in your home! Look at Houzz, there is an eclectic mix of designs here.


Creating your own home bar does not have to mean you blow the budget! There are many bars available online. These come in all shapes and sizes. If you do not have a lot of space, you could just create a retro drinks trolley, probably the cheapest option! Wayfair offer bars from under £100, whilst specialist home bar companies have designs starting from £350. You could, of course, create your own bar. The Family Handy Man, has great, detailed instructions on how to build a fantastic bar. He provides instructions that include the anatomy of a bar, what materials you require and what you need to consider when creating your bar. There is another highly informative guide by the Instructables Workshop, 10 easy steps to building a bar. You could also use recycled material, like pallets, to create a bar, economical and great for the environment!



Giving your home bar/pub a theme will really help you create a professional, fun space for everyone to enjoy. Choose a theme and stick to it, your family and friends will be impressed by the finished results!





Consider the theme you want to give your bar. Is it going to be a cocktail bar, a Tikki bar or a traditional Pub? Will it be a bar that celebrates your favourite pastime, for example a sport, music, or cars? Deciding on your theme will then help guide you in your selection of enhancements. For example, if you are going to create a cocktail style bar, you may want to use LED coloured lighting and a metallic finish to your bar. Alternatively, for a Tikki Bar, you may go light and bright, with rustic wood or bamboo finish. A traditional Pub feel may lead you to using darker, natural wood, with pendant lights hanging overhead? Likewise, the seating should also follow your theme. Chrome and dark coloured leather for cocktail bars, rustic for a Tikki bar and traditional bar stools for a pub, for example.

Enhance the look

So, you have selected the space, set a budget, chosen a theme and your basic bar is in place – great job! Now it is time to give it that va va voom! If you are able, add a back- board, this will give you additional storage and shelving. Decide whether you are going to install a beer pump system, or not. There is a variety of pumps on the market, that certainly give an authentic feel to a traditional pub, plus your beer will be chilled! Talking about keeping things chilled, consider having a refrigerator built into your bar, ideal for wine, prosecco, and ice cubes! Optic dispensers are widely available and a must for any home bar where space allows. You also need storage for glasses – don’t forget your theme, keep them authentic!

The finishing touches

It is time to add those finishing touches. Again, consider your theme. Artwork really helps to enhance your space. Maybe cocktail menus, a pub name, drink advertising signs? You are only limited by your own imagination! Don’t forget practical accessories too, bottle openers, beer mats, cocktail shakers etc! Consider what you are primarily going to use your bar for. If it is to party and entertain friends or family, why not incorporate a sound system, TV, and games. You could have anything, from traditional pub games like dominoes or draughts, to your very own Juke box!

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we hope this guide on how to create a bar at home has inspired you to go for it! The most important thing is to create a space that is going to work for you. Make it fun, unique and above all, enjoy it! Don’t forget, metal wall art can male a great gift for someone too! We are delighted to now feature in Feedspot’s top 50 Gift websites and Blogs and look forward to sharing more informative blogs to you soon!




Vintage Wall Art for the Garage

Vintage Wall Art for the Garage



A garage can be as much a cathedral to the car and motorbike, as it is a storage facility for gardenalia. Whether you store a Harley Davidson or simply have some art that pays homage to it’s classic lines, the garage is a natural home for retro. Garages lend themselves perfectly to Metal Wall Signs. They bring a certain character to an otherwise cold corner. So, read on to learn more about vintage wall art for the garage.

Harley Davidson Bike Wall Sign


Vespa Scooter Garage SignWhether you’re a hairy biker or dream of owning a Vespa you’ll want to celebrate your passion in the garage. Just add some vintage Vespa signs or the image of a classic Norton on the wall and you will create your own time capsule, back to the golden era of transport. Your garage need no longer be the home of the dusty and discarded, it can be a festival of kitsch and cool. Remember the halcyon days of your first Ford Escort Mark I, for example. Honour your passion for classic cars, by donning art work on the walls. Alongside the pictures of your favourite vehicles, hang nostalgic advertisement. Obvious choices would be motor oil, like Shell for example. Likewise, don’t forget manufacturer’s brands, like VW and Ford.

Round Vintage Gas Sign



Adding some vintage signage and metal wall art can create a 60’s vibe and can add a bit of fun in your garage. Vintage Gas Signs and metal Harley Davidson signs can really evoke that bygone era and give your garage a unique vintage cool atmosphere. Why not give it a go and make your garage a space to be proud of when the door is open?

Garden Store Room

If your garage is merely an extension of your garden shed, why not celebrate it with some great signage. Tidy your tools, sort your seeds and decorate your walls. Whether you’re a nature lover, a flower gardener or a keen vegetable grower, there’s a vintage sign for you!

Man Cave

No longer just a space for just storing stuff, garages have become an extension of our homes. Often they adjoin our utility rooms and house everything from cars, bikes, trikes and ride on lawnmowers. Many, however, have been transformed into full blown Man Caves, bars and pool rooms. If your home has spilled into your garage, why not take back control and turn it into your cave? Adding some metal wall art will give your garage the ultimate vintage va-va-voom to match that of your theme. Garages can be cold and unwelcoming, but if you’re willing to put a little extra thought into adorning your garage walls with unique art work, you can turn it into a welcoming cosy corner of which you can be proud.

American Diner Wall Sign


Choose your artwork accordingly, to reflect your theme. Tiki-bar, American Diner, a homage to Route 66 or retro bar. Add to that some Sarsaparilla, a few cocktail, beer and Coca Cola signs and you’ll step back to the future in a few short footsteps. You’re only limited by your imagination!



Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we have a great range of vintage wall art for the garage. Come and have a look! Our products give you a warm nostalgic flavour for the 20th century. Our range covers the whole of the century, so there’s something on our site for everyone interested in the most influential century that the world has known to date.



How to protect your Metal Wall Sign

How to protect your Metal Wall Sign for use outside.

Metal Wall Signs , the most popular product lines at Sweet and Nostalgic. We want you to get the most out of them. The metal wall sign range is popular because the vibrant colours add an extra special feel to the home. Many of the signs lend themselves to garden decoration too, however, is it safe to put them outside? The signs do not have a UV protection in the manufacturing process, consequently we highly recommend you place them in a shaded spot. We do understand that this isn’t always possible however. So, to extend the life of your sign, here’s how to protect your Metal Wall Sign for use outside. We’ve tested the best UV spray products available to keep your sign in tip top condition for years to come.

We treated (vertically) half the signs displayed with UV Spray and the other half remained non-treated. We hope that you find it interesting and can use the information to help you with the placement of your signs.

The Plan

We used 2 great Garden Wall Art Signs for this test, our Allotment Sign and our Catalogue of Seeds sign. Both are sized 30cm x 40cm.
Hanging Metal Wall Signs Oustide









We purchased the following two products for this experiment.

  1. Rust-Oleum Crystal Clear (Matt Finish)
  2. PlastiKote Clear Sealer (Satin Finish)

UV Spray for Metal Wall Signs       UV Spray for Metal Wall Signs

Both were purchased on Amazon circa £7 per Can. Other finishes are available depending on preferred final effect.

If you use a UV Spray, please make sure you fully read the instructions on the reverse of the can. Only use the spray in a well ventilated area (preferably outside). Use gloves and a face mask for additional protection.

The Execution

Firstly we Separated each sign vertically using tape and cardboard. Secondly, the left hand side was treated with the UV Spray, whilst the right hand side remained untreated. We hope, that over time, we will be able to show the effect of protecting your wall sign outside, compared to not protecting it.

Each sign received 3 light coats of UV Spray over a 3 hour period (any visible markings on the vertical plane is the effect of the joint on the spray.

Protecting your Metals Wall Sign from UV Sunlight

Protecting your Metals Wall Sign from UV Sunlight

Once dried overnight we erected the signs on a south facing fence. The sun, during the summer months, passes this area from 11.00am in the morning until Mid Afternoon approximately 5.00pm. This position will expose the signs to UV light for most of the day, so this is the most extreme test of our Metal Wall Signs outside.

To find more perfect air conditioner and gadgets for your home, check out GearHungry.

The signs were erected on 30.05.19. We will provide updates over time to explain how the UV coating performs.
Wall Art outside

Garden Wall Art for OutdoorsGarden Wall Art for Outdoors

One Year On – Update

Unfortunately, the UV coating protection had very little effect protecting the signs in this full sun position. Sweet and Nostalgic would therefore continue to recommend you place the signs in a shaded/ semi-shaded site to prolong their life. They will brighten up a darker corner of your garden! Continue to use the UV spray to add some additional protection, however, if you do need to place the signs in direct, full sunlight, it may be worth investing in a sign manufactured with the UV coating, contact us for quotes (this is an expensive process).