AVUNCULAR PRESENTER: This week on Things We Buy Even Though We Know They Will Go Wrong, we’re going to get the bottom line on choc ices. Why do we still buy them even though we know they will go wrong? Let’s go over to Kerry McKerry in Switzerland…
[A montage of cuckoo clocks, Roger Federer, piles of Nazi gold, and cheese with big holes in it. Intrepid reporter Kerry McKerry walks along a very clean street.]
KERRY McKERRY: This is Zurich, home of things which come from Zurich, in the same way that there is a sign at Wolverhampton train station saying “Welcome to Wolverhampton, Home of the University of Wolverhampton.” And home too to somebody who does not come from Zurich but who went to live there: Derek Wilton, the shadowy inventor of the choc ice.
[Kerry walks up some stone steps to a Swiss castle in the mountains. A hunch-backed retainer opens the creaking door, and Kerry steps inside. She sits in a library with Derek Wilton, who is in a wingback chair and mostly in shadow.]
KERRY McKERRY: Derek Wilton, I suppose my first question must be, “Do you get a lot of people pointing out that you have the same name as Mavis’s husband in Coronation Street?”
DEREK WILTON: No. I live in Switzerland, and he left the show in 1997, so it doesn’t come up that often. I think it’s just you and Les Dennis who’ve brought it up.
KERRY McKERRY: So, choc ices? What were you thinking?
DEREK WILTON: That is very simple. You see, before I invented the choc ice, I invented both the carpet which bears my name, and the carpet cleaner. Now, the carpet became very popular, but I could not sell a single bottle of the cleaner.
KERRY McKERRY: They’re very easy to clean, Wilton carpets, aren’t they?
DEREK WILTON: Exactly. I was a victim of my own success. But then I thought, “If I can somehow manage to get people to rub some sort of stain all over their carpets themselves they will beat a path to my doorway to get their hands on my carpet cleaner.”
[Wilton’s voice over a montage of scientists in a laboratory.]
DEREK WILTON: So I got onto the boffins in my lab. I asked them to think of something that people like, but which could cause serious damage to a light carpet. They came up with Marmite, but apparently not everybody likes Marmite, and Bovril, but vegetarians are less keen on beef tea. And then, suddenly, nice chocolate!
KERRY McKERRY: Everybody likes nice chocolate, apart from the Americans.
DEREK WILTON: Exactly, but how were we going to transfer chocolate efficiently from people’s mouths to their carpets? The answer was to use something else people like: ice cream.
KERRY McKERRY: I don’t understand.
DEREK WILTON: It’s so brilliantly simple. When do people really like ice cream? When it’s very hot. What happens to ice cream when it’s hot? It melts.
KERRY McKERRY: Oh…
DEREK WILTON: And that is the genius of a choc ice. We have something very brittle surrounding some liquid, like one of those liqueur chocolates you have at Christmas. It is therefore impossible for a person with teeth to stand and eat a choc ice without chocolate going all over the floor.
[Archive footage of a man wearing flares eating a choc ice in a laboratory. Scientists are measuring the amount of chocolate around his feet.]
DEREK WILTON (cont.): And what happens to chocolate when heat is applied? Have you ever tried to get a Jaffa Cake out of the cellophane when it’s sunny outside? You look like you’ve been mud wrestling. Even if the chocolate is not that warm, it melts as soon as you touch it to pick it up off the carpet. Hail me, for I am a carpet cleaner-selling genius. [Maniacal laughter]
[Kerry walking along a Zurich street.]