GB Glace (originally Glace-Bolaget until 1991) is the largest ice cream company in Sweden. It was founded in 1942, and was purchased by the Anglo-Dutch company Unilever in 1996. Besides its own traditional brands, it now produces many of the same products as other Unilever Heartbrand subsidiaries, such as Langnese in Germany.
The year was 1930 when Eric Wilhelm Hanner was sent to New York for a year to study and to learn to produce and market ice-cream. He who sent Eric to the United States was his father Axel David Hanner that was in upper management at the milk company ARLA. Eric had noticed that ARLA was disposing of milk-fat that could be used for the production of ice-cream, which he also informed ARLA management about. Eric Hanner had also visited ice-cream companies in Denmark and in Switzerland prior to being sent to New York.
It was still tough going at ARLA after Eric Hanners return to Sweden from a year in New York, USA; the company was still sceptical to the idea of ice-cream production but Eric Hanner got his way in 1934 and the reason was as he so many times before had pointed out that there was money to be made with the milk-fat that ARLA was accustomed to throw away.
ARLA built the first ice-cream plant in their own premises on Torsgatan (Tors street), and the plant including all ice-cream production machines was finished on March 1, 1935 to the cost of 245 000 SEK; the name of this company was Puck Glace and the first ice-cream sold by Puck Glace occurred on March 23, 1935.
There existed four ice-cream companies in Stockholm at the end of 1941 whereas ARLA’s Puck Glace was one. Puck Glace purchased the competitor Igloo Glacefabrik (Igloo ice-cream plant) in 1942 and shortly after that they merged with Chocolate-Thule and purchased Alaska Glace and by so doing the company Glace Bolaget (GB Glace) was established. It was decided that Eric Wilhelm Hanner was to be the first company president in this new ice-cream company, a position that he held until his retirement in 1972.
The Unilever purchase of any ice-cream brands in Sweden, can be traced back to 1962, when Trollhätteglass (established in 1933) was purchased by the company. The company also merged with GB Glace in 1973.
Nogger Black controversy
In 2005, the Swedish company was criticized by the Centre against Racism and Related Intolerance after launching an advertising campaign introducing their new line of ice cream bars, the Nogger Black, which is an addition to their existing "Nogger" ice cream product. The original Nogger is a vanilla ice cream bar with a nougat filling and chocolate shell, whereas the Nogger Black substitutes toffee in lieu of the nougat center and encases the bar in a salty, black liquorice outer shell rather than chocolate; hence the name Nogger Black. Nogger Black has a logotype that looks like graffiti. Petronella Warg, GB Glace's information officer, reported that the first Nogger ice cream bar had been marketed since 1979, its name derived from the nougat filling.
The criticism was mainly aimed at an advert where the slogan "Nogger + liquorice = true" (a Swedish equivalent to "Nogger ♥ liquorice") was written in white chalk on asphalt. Stig Wallin - chairman of the centre - misread the slogan as "Nigger + liquorice" and said "It's impossible not to see this as an allusion to racism." The centre urged for a boycott of the company if they did not withdraw the campaign. Slate writer Timothy Noah also criticized the product.
The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet wrote an article about it in 2005, and also started a poll along with the article (on their website). The question was: 'Tycker du att glassreklamen är rasistisk?', which translates to 'Do you think that the ice-cream advert is racist?'. Over 150,000 people have voted, and 94.9% voted 'No'.
Also, the name of another GB ice cream, 88:an ("The 88-er"), is similar to 88, a codename for "Heil Hitler" used in neo-nazi circles (HH, as "H" is the 8th letter of the Latin alphabet), but this is just a coincidence. There was also a limited 88:an Black ice cream a few years prior to Nogger Black.
- MooLatte, Bested: Please welcome an even more race-baiting ice cream product
- Ice cream giant slammed for "racist" ads
- Ice cream names cause debate - are the names racist or Nazi codewords?
- Television interview with Eric W. Hanner in the television program “Insyn” conducted by Swedish Radio and Television in 1971 about six months before Eric W. Hanner retired.
- Mats Wickman. Glassboken - Ett stycke glasshistoria [Ice-cream book – a passage ice-cream history] (in Swedish). Sellin & Partner Förlag AB (Sellin & Partner publishing Company Inc.).
- GB Glace official website (Swedish)