Sunday, 21 December 2008

A Taste of the Arctic...

Just a little reassurance to those planning on coming down to the South Coast of England for Christmas – we are not experiencing arctic conditions here on our beautiful South Downs -Slightly chilly, grey and damp but most certainly not arctic conditions, so you can throw out the snow boots now okay?
Arctic Roll – to be precise. There was no way that I could let this week pass without spending a moment or two reminiscing about an old family favourite which not only became evident in almost every freezer during the 1970’s but, found its conception within a ‘rolls throw of where I live – Eastbourne! Becoming a big seller for good old Birds Eye, its popularity eventually wavered and Arctic Roll ceased being manufactured around ten years ago.
Remember this family favourite from your childhood maybe? Miss it? Never had it anyway? – What is it did I hear you say from across the water?
..For those of you who (mercifully) escaped the delights of growing up with such a sweet sickly ice-cream dessert I had better explain. Arctic Roll originally consisted of vanilla ice cream rolled in what appeared to be luminous red jam and then wrapped Swiss roll style in a thick layer of sponge – and frozen. Therefore the ‘ideal family dessert’ that could be kept in the freezer in readiness for a quick and convenient dessert for the family- indeed an Arctic Roll could feed the largest of families due to its ease of being cut into the thinnest of slices, or of course hulking great pieces if one was feeling extravagant!
Way back in 1939 Dr Ernest Veldon, a Czechoslovakian lawyer fled the Nazis and eventually found himself living in Eastbourne (just a few miles from where I live).He set up an ice-cream factory and Artic Roll was born in 1958.

UK’s largest frozen food manufacturers Birds Eye set up a factory in Eastbourne (now closed and the site of Tesco's) where it became a large employer for the town. Employees would treat family and friends to the numerous products that were deemed ‘seconds’ from the factory shop – therefore Arctic Roll, became almost part of the Eastbourne scene as a walk along our famous Carpet Gardens.
Speak to anyone over twenty and they will each have their own particular memory of the good old Arctic Roll. The way in which it was eaten became almost a family ritual. Some would swear by 'eating the ice cream first technique' thus leaving the sponge for last. Others would carefully roll out the sponge from around the edge, taking care to scrape off and eat the sticky jam first. If you really wanted to impress friends and family back in the 70’s a slice of this ‘delicacy’ could be topped with tinned fruit (a nightmare ‘dessert’ from my own childhood…who remembers tinned fruit cocktail with vivid plasticlike pink cherries?) – Then the ultimate ‘garnish’ could be carefully placed on the top …..A dollop of Birds Dream Topping. On reflection we may wonder how any of us have survived that era of quick and convenient and vile packet mixes!
Personally, I must have been in my late teens before I tasted the delights of this British ‘delicacy’, - and it wasn’t until I went to my boyfriends house that I was introduced to such things. I can remember now the look of disgust on my Mothers face when I relayed to her what we had had for dessert one Sunday. The look of distain said it all and I was firmly reminded that the foods we eat are forever linked to the good old British class system, and like it or not they remain so -possibly even to a greater extent now in 2008.
Well, let’s say the eating habits of the boyfriend I spoke of certainly didn’t put me off – I married him! Not only that, I indulged him in his passion for Arctic Roll - and even introduced our children to it before it was withdrawn ten years ago….but I don’t think I ever presented my Mother with a slice in all that time, maybe I should?!
As for me, I don’t think I have ever had another slice of Arctic Roll since that day at my mother-in-law’s house – Just not my idea of a dessert I’m afraid. I can’t help feeling that now Birds Eye is reintroducing it, there may be just the odd Arctic Roll appearing in my weekly grocery order…but only occasionally!
To read more up to date info on this and many more of our favourite British Frozen Foods go to
Love Molly x


dani said...

hi, molly:)
the two closest confections i've ever eaten are the jelly roll and the ice cream log... i make a jelly roll with sponge cake and strawberry preserves, topping it with whipped heavy cream and fresh strawberries.
katherine's favorite is the ice cream roll, which is a thin dark-chocolate sponge cake topped with a thin layer of fudge then ice cream. it is then rolled and iced with a dark heavy fudge frosting... yum!!!
we, actually, have birds eye products here (mainly frozen vegetables).
how do you think the arctic roll will fare in today's market???

Molly's Mellow Moments said...

Hi Dani
Your efforts sound so much nicer than the what I have described! Lucky Katherine!
As for Arctic Roll making a comeback, I think it will probably fair very well. There seems to be a massive resurgence of the frozen food market at the moment, so I'm sure they will do well. - Maybe not from my shopping orders though!
Reckon you should market yours hun!
Keep baking, keep posting!
M x

Tabitha said...

I absolutely love Arctic Roll and I had no idea that you couldn't get it anymore ~ I just presumed that you still could (heving been on a diet for a while I haven't bought any ha ha !!)
I could really eat a piece right now ha ha !!
Love and hugs XXXX

Molly's Mellow Moments said...

Tabs, I think you can still get it..only its under the Tesco brand. I noticed it when looking through the frozen dessert section on the website...I think Birdseye are planning on introducing a chocolate one..somehow I don't think it'll be as good as Dani's eh?!
M x