They say international travel broadens the mind but in the case of Ron Street it gave him the idea for a new ice-lolly which he thought would be the perfect treat with which Streets Ice Cream could win customers from a rival company
But when he presented his idea to his uncle Edwin (Ted) Street, who had founded the company in the 1930s along with his brother Daniel, Ron’s father, he was not taken with the idea. In fact Ted told Ron that it would be a ‘nine day wonder’.
However Ron, who had chosen a career in the family ice cream business after refusing an offer to join NASA’s space program as an engineer, was convinced of its potential and so continued working on his idea The lolly was six months in development and during that time acquired its name “The Paddle Pop” because its shape resembled that of a paddle.
When it was finally launched in 1953 it was an immediate success. Ron remembers it fondly and when, on the brand’s sixtieth birthday, he was asked about that time, he recalls that “it took off like a wildfire, it just took off”.
In fact it was so popular the factory had to put on an extra shift of workers and Paddle Pops were only produced in chocolate for the first two years, despite plans for other flavours.
Other flavours, including Ron’s favourite, caramel, were introduced later in the 1950s.
In 1960 Unilever bought Streets and Paddle Pops acquired its shaggy-maned icon, the Paddle Pop Lion.
The brand still flourishes today, long after those nine days ran out.
Footnote: Paddle Pops have become such a part of Australian culture that one of the most popular forms of fencing is known as Paddle Pop Picket as each strut looks like a Paddle Pop lolly stick.