A transatlantic ice cream vending machine is proving to be a big hit with customers of an East Staffordshire ices manufacturer. Anna Bell and Eniko Thompstone, who run Needwood Ice Cream, believe they have landed a sales coup in importing the machine from the United States.
“We think it’s the first machine of this type to be used in the UK,” said Anna. “It enables the people of Burton to satisfy their 24/7 ice cream needs!”
Such has been the popularity of ‘Violet the Vending Machine’, as the automated sales point is known, that a video of it in action on the company’s Facebook page had 2,000 views in 24 hours.
“People seem extremely interested in Violet,” said Anna. “When her cabin was in situ, awaiting her arrival, we were always being asked about when she would be installed.
“With the constant asking after Violet we were keen to get her up and running as quickly as possible and Sign Craft Bretby pulled out all the stops to get her graphics done.
“Even the company we bought the machine off have complimented us on how good the graphics look on the machine.
“I have even had comments that Violet is great as people can buy as much ice cream as they want without anyone knowing – only the CCTV will know.”
Vanilla and chocolate are Violet’s most popular products and she is selling banana toffee crunch, sorbet and pistachio and almond very well. “We keep one pocket purely for sorbet and rotate the flavour so that dairy intolerant people always have an option,” explained Anna.
Violets is sited next to the popular egg vending machine at the company’s Anslow base. She is stocked with 12 different flavours and joins the ‘family’ of other machines – Daisy, the traditional ice cream van, Buttercup, the delivery van and trikes Trevor and Trish. Anna, who takes care of the sales side and Eniko, who runs production, have also recently received an accolade in the National Great Taste awards for their butterscotch and honeycomb crunch flavour.
“We are extremely proud of this and feel it is not only good for the business but also for the area to have products with this label to be produced locally,” said Anna. Needwood traditional hand-finished ice cream has been a popular local brand for the last two decades and, until 2013 was run by Jane Briggs at Coulters Hill Farm, near Hanbury.
But the business was offered for sale by Jane when she decided to retire – to someone with the passion and desire to keep up the traditions and reputation.
This was when Anna and Eniko snapped it up.