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Creamola Foam: Were you a fan of the fizzy drink which launched in Aberdeen and became a national favourite?

Creamola Foam was launched in Aberdeen 90 years ago.  Image: DCT
Creamola Foam was launched in Aberdeen 90 years ago. Image: DCT

Many of our readers of a certain age will remember the eager anticipation of dipping into their tins of Creamola Foam at break and lunch.

The better-behaved reconstituted the powder with water into a sparkling, foamy drink; the more depraved just loved taking spoonfuls of the crystals straight out of the tin for a fizzy sensation on the tongue — which would then be stuck out to great hilarity as the bright orange or pink mush fizzled away.

Creamola Foam was launched at this exhibition in Kittybrewster in May 1932.   Image: AJL

Creamola Foam was unleashed on the Scottish public in May 1932 at the Ideal Homes and Foods Exhibition in the Kittybrewster Olympia Hall in Aberdeen.

Sample drinks were handed out and: “Those who try it will appreciate this delicious, wholesome refreshment,” said a visiting reviewer from The Press and Journal.

The following year the manufacturers started a massive advertising campaign, with “As bubbly as champagne” and “Tickles the World’s palate” some of the claims made.

A Creamola Foam advert from 1934, when the product was largely aimed at adults.  Image: DCT

“The word Creamola has long been a household word with grown-ups as well as children, a word that stands for all that is good and nourishing in the pudding line,” began a piece in the Dundee Evening Telegraph in 1933.

“Now a new product comes from the same makers — a sparkling, cooling drink, Creamola Foam.

“The delicious thirst-quencher can be obtained from all grocers. It is made up in crystal form in tins and also in handy penny packets, in two favourite flavours, lemon and orange,” the newspaper article continued. “A spoonful of Creamola Foam crystals makes a most enjoyable drink.”

Creamola Foam took off in the 30s, thanks to heavy promotion like this gushing 1934 advert. Putting a kilt on it would always be a winner. Image: DCT

The non-alcoholic ‘champagne’ came from the Kinning Park factory of Glasgow entrepreneur William Galbraith Hetherington.

He established it in 1904 to manufacture custard powder, and achieved roaring success.

Within twenty years it had become one of the largest food manufacturing factories in Scotland, and Creamola was a household name.

Creamola Foam was massively popular with late twentieth century school children and made a comeback in 2019.

Its output included flavoured ground rice, custard powder, milk jellies, caramel desserts, rice custards and steamed pudding mix, right in tune with the modern age where ‘housewives’, increasingly unable to afford help in the kitchen, wanted products that were quick and convenient above all.

And of course nourishing and wholesome, as the adverts were quick to affirm, falling short of using the word “healthy” but definitely implying it.

No mention of the rate of attrition on children’s teeth, as many will attest!

A 1960 Creamola Foam commercial caught the eye of The Stage magazine, and was given a grumpy review. Image: BNA/The Stage

Hetherington died in 1948, but the factory continued, bought over by Rowntree in 1966 before coming under the banner of Nestle UK in 1988.

It was sold off to Premier Foods, becoming Rowlaw No 1 Ltd in 1991, before being—appropriately—’dissolved’ in 1993.

European food standards saw many companies having to change their recipes for sweet products, or ditching them completely.

Formula goes missing

With the changes of ownership, the Creamola Foam formula apparently went missing.

In 2010, a company in Dumbarton started selling Kramola Fizz, which prompted a motion of support for the return of the original favourite at the Scottish Parliament.

The relaunch failed to find favour with the public.

Lisa McAllister, owner of I Love Candy is pictured here with a box of  Kramola crystals in her Edinburgh shop after the relaunch in 2011. Image: Lorenzo Dalberto/Deadline

But a relaunch much closer to, and trademarked as the original Creamola Foam took place in 2019, by McCandlish Farmhouse Confectionery, amid hurrahs from consumers that it was still as full of E numbers as the original product.

It comes in a mass of flavours, the pack has the retro feel of the old ones, and it costs an astonishing £4.49 a tin.

Think 8½ d eight decades ago.

Meanwhile, the iconic original tins had achieved something of a cult status after they were replaced by the less inspiring plastic tubs of Kramola Fizz, and became as rare as hen’s teeth.

In 2016, Creamola connoisseur Roddy Nicoll from Fife decided to unlock his vault and launch his prized unopened tin of lemon and a tin of raspberry Creamola Foam on an unsuspecting eBay.

Last unopened tin

Roddy, 49 at the time, said he believed the 1970s citrus-flavour tin is the last known unopened pack in the world.

“The last one I heard about was found in a cupboard at a baker’s shop in Orkney, where it’s in a vault somewhere in Kirkwall — but that was an opened one,” he said. “I wouldn’t guarantee the unopened tin is drinkable, but it’s a powdered product so I don’t see why it wouldn’t last.”

Roddy with his precious tins of Creamola Foam, taken from the safety of a vault to go on sale on eBay in 2016.  Image: Wullie Marr/Deadline

A bidding war opened on eBay, finishing at £345, with Roddy donating 20% of the proceeds to the Beatson Cancer Charity.

Just how much Roddy adored Creamola Foam comes through in his ode which includes the lines:

Well you werenae just the common type 
My granny told me you were out of sight. 
You werenae cheap, top of the shelf and if I wanted to touch I’d behave myself 
All I wanted was a shot of you 
To drink you in, all of you 
One tall glass and a foamy head 
I’d lick you off the spoon 
And take you to bed 
Your raspberry, orange and citrus tones 
Were made in heaven for my bones 
Tickle my heart as I drink you in 
Forget the cola, you’re the real thing.