1961 Unilever acquires Sennitt’s Ice Cream

When Unilever acquired Sennitt's Ice Cream the famous polar bear disappeared

The Sennitt’s Ice Cream brand was discontinued when Unilever acquired Sennitt’s and the company was merged with Streets. The famous polar bear logo disappeared, but the signs remain sought-after by collectors.

In the early 20th century there were many small ice cream brands, often sold in just one state or region. Over time Peters Ice Cream established a national presence, with different competitors in each state. As time went on, many of the smaller ice cream companies were bought out by larger manufacturers, concentrating the industry in fewer and fewer hands. In Victoria, by the 1950s, the choice was between Peters, Sennitt’s and Toppa, which was owned by the New Zealand-based Tip Top Ice Cream Co. Streets Ice Cream was Peters’s main competitor in New South Wales.

The predecessor of Unilever,  Lever Brothers, had been involved in the ice cream business in England since 1922 under the Wall’s brand. At the end of the 1950s, Unilever Australia Pty Ltd decided to get into ice cream here, buying the NSW company McNiven’s Ice Cream in 1959. Their next acquisition was Streets, in 1960.  It seems the aim was to make the New South Wales favourite into a national brand.

In 1961, Unilever acquired Sennitt’s. At that time the Victorian ice cream manufacturer was well-represented at milk bars around the state but did not have the branded products to compete with Peters’ Choc-Wedge or Eskimo Pie. The decision was made to abandon the Sennitt’s brand in favour of Streets. Before long the Streets Cornetto was competing with the Peters Drumstick as branded and wrapped ice creams replaced the old-fashioned cones.  The famous Sennitt’s polar bear disappeared.

Unilever has continued to expand its share of the Australian ice cream market in the 21st century, launching the American specialty brand, Ben & Jerry’s, in 2009 and acquiring the Queensland-based Weis ice cream company in 2017.

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