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October 7, 2013 | by  | in Features |
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Strawberry Toppa: S’now Good

It’s tri-coloured, tastes like what an orgasm should, and lingers fondly in our memories like the departed days of summer. That’s right, I’m talking about the Fruju Tropical Snow. Three strips of refreshing citrus sorbet on a stick; you could get no better ice cream. That was until Tip Top discontinued it and broke all of our hearts, taking away a crucial element of the oft-referred-to ‘Kiwi Summer’.

However, Tip Top handed us fans of the Fruju Tropical Snow an olive branch in August this year, with their ‘Bring Back’ Facebook campaign. The campaign pitted three discontinued Tip Top ice creams against each other: the Fruju Tropical Snow, the Mint Trumpet, and the Strawberry Toppa. Fans of the ice creams were invited to vote in the Facebook poll for their favourite, with the winner to be brought back for a limited time.

Hope once more filled our bleak and broken hearts. With at least four Facebook fan pages for the Fruju Tropical Snow, amassing over 20,000 likes between them, there was no way that it could lose. A perfect summer was on the horizon—the Fruju Tropical Snow was coming back!

But then, hope was crushed. Our hearts re-broken. The Strawberry Toppa won the poll. The Strawberry Toppa, with only one Facebook fan page possessing only seven likes, beat the Fruju Tropical Snow and its army of devoted fans. Tears all across New Zealand were shed as we came to the sickening realisation that once more, we were faced with a summer devoid of the Fruju Tropical Snow.

A process of grief began. We passed through the first stage of shock and denial as we refreshed our newsfeeds again and again, slowly realising that we truly had lost the battle. Then the second stage: pain and guilt as we asked ourselves: did we do enough, did we vote enough times, should we have shared the page more? And then came the third stage: anger.

We began to question how the Toppa could have won the poll without any outside exploitation. The more it was thought about, the more unlikely it seemed. Whispered accusations of deceit grew louder, and conspiracy rumours began to circle. Was the Toppa really the winner?

At one point during the period of voting, Tip Top addressed the fact that a bot had hacked the poll and placed a large amount of votes in the Toppas favour, bringing it equal with the Fruju Tropical Snow. Tip Top removed the bot and righted the vote tally, but within a day or so after the bot cull, the Toppa had re-acquired the 6000-or-so votes Tip Top had removed from it. At the time, this comprised about 30–40 per cent of its total votes. After it was again neck and neck with the Fruju Tropical Snow, this huge acceleration in voting stopped.

Despite the many thousands of votes cast over the poll’s duration, the Fruju Tropical Snow and the Toppa stayed incredibly close, a fact that many Fruju Tropical Snow fans have found highly implausible. There were also reports that the Toppa is the cheapest ice cream of the three for Tip Top to manufacture, and that production of Toppas began before voting had closed, rendering the ‘Bring Back’ campaign a mere marketing gimmick.

So I went to Tip Top. It was time to get these questions answered once and for all.

Minna Reinikkala, Group Marketing Manager for Tip Top, said that after it was discovered that a “rogue robot… seemed to be playing around with the votes”, Tip Top corrected the votes and “manually monitored [them] every day until the voting closed”.

“We can confirm there were no fake votes when we counted up the final poll at midnight on Sunday 8 September,” said Reinikkala.

In response to both the closeness of the race and the fact that there is far more support for the Fruju Tropical Snow than the Toppa on Facebook, Reinikkala said: “both the Fruju Snow and the Toppa are exceptionally popular products for different reasons—Fruju Snow seems to appeal to a younger audience who tend to be a lot more vocal about their support on social media. Toppa supporters, however, are exceptionally determined and likely to come back loyally every day to vote.”

She also said that all three ice creams were just as “commercially viable”, and that they all went into the early stages of manufacture during voting, “in order to shorten the amount of time between voting and launch”, but that Tip Top “can’t actually manufacture Strawberry Toppas without the strawberries (i.e. the key ingredient!) and these don’t come into season until end of October”.

In the end, Tip Top is running a business, and they will tell me what I—and all the other heartbroken Fruju Tropical Snow fans—want to hear. We will never know for certain whether or not the Fruju Tropical Snow, that king among ice creams, was indeed the true winner, but our anger will not change the reality.

Jared McCulloch, a leader of Fruju Tropical Snow Soldiers and administrator of the ‘Bring back the Fruju Tropical Snow’ Facebook page, implores his followers not to give up hope yet. He believes that one day, we will see the Fruju Tropical Snow rise again.

For the sake of all those with good taste in ice cream, I for one hope he’s right.

——

Steph Trengrove is in her second year of a double major in Criminology and International Relations, after dropping Law because it’s the Devil’s subject.

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