Bad news, ice block connoisseurs.
Challenging. Elevated. Cultured. Complex. Sophisticated. Bitter. Piquant. Mention of the grapefruit and lemon Fruju evokes all sorts of adjectives rarely associated with the realm of the dairy ice block freezer. But maybe not for much longer.
The news is in, and it’s bad: the formidable grapefruit and lemon Fruju has been discontinued.
Tip Top media spokesperson Ben Churr confirmed to The Spinoff yesterday that the company had ceased production of its most sophisticated ice block. “It was the least popular of the flavours… it does have a very strong group of people who love it, but we’re not making it at the moment,” he said.
The decision comes despite the flavour being placed fourth on The Spinoff’s ranking of all 87 ice blocks in Aotearoa and second in The Spinoff’s ranking of the Fruju range. This year, Lorde commissioned a corduroy pillow for her dressing room featuring the grapefruit Fruju’s likeness, among a bunch of other “things that make me feel calm,” the Grammy Award-winning artist wrote in her newsletter. Enthusiasts for the block might make up a smaller proportion of the population than others, but those in the grapefruit Fruju fan club would likely argue their love is the strongest.
“When I received the news today from Tip Top confirming they have been discontinued, I burst into tears,” says grapefruit Fruju devotee Sinead Corcoran Dye. After struggling to locate her favourite flavour at the shops, she decided to message the company earlier this week to enquire as to their whereabouts. “Unfortunately we stopped producing the grapefruit Frujus late last year, so that’s probably why you’re having a hard time locating them,” the company replied on Instagram.
To her, the ice blocks were far more than just a summer nice-to-have – over the last few months they have been an edible lifeline. “I first discovered grapefruit Frujus in [the] first trimester of my hellish pregnancy,” Corcoran Dye says. “I had just been diagnosed with hyperemesis which basically means I vomit morning till night and likely will for the whole nine months. Grapefruit Frujus are the only thing I’ve found that I can stomach.”
She’s tried other flavours in the Fruju range, like the pineapple and orange varieties, “but they don’t hit the same,” she says. The beauty of grapefruit Frujus is in their “sour tartness” as opposed to other ice blocks which tend toward being “overly sugary” or imbued with a “trash fake fruit flavour”.
This isn’t the first time Tip Top, which was sold by Fonterra in 2019 to Italian ice cream company Froneri, has upset Fruju fans. This is just the latest in a seemingly endless saga of product line pauses and discontinuations in the range.
In the summer of 2018, the company cut-back production of grapefruit and lemon Frujus in order to focus on meeting demand for their most popular products like pineapple Fruju and vanilla ice cream. The tri-coloured Fruju tropical snow has been discontinued on and off for over a decade now. Then there’s Fruju Pulp Fusion – a flavour few likely remember – which was sold in the early-2000s, but has since been discontinued. In December 2022, Tip Top spokesperson paused production of Fruju Orange Rush to make way for the mango flavour because of limited freezer space in some stores, but the product has since been reinstated.
Asked whether they had received any feedback on its latest decision to cut a flavour, Tip Top’s spokesperson responded: “Yeah we always do, we make a lot of products and some of them [have] strong followings and grapefruit is one of them.” He also offered a glimmer of hope, albeit temporarily: “It’s still in a lot of dairies and stuff like that so there’s still stock in those stores, it’s still around and about at the moment.”
Corcoran Dye isn’t sure what she’ll replace her flavour of choice with. “I’ve been so sick for nearly seven months and grapefruit Frujus were honestly holding me together. It’s very stressful now not having any safe food options I know I can keep down.”
It was around a month ago that she last found the ice block, at a dairy in the West Auckland suburb of Henderson, and her husband has offered to make a trip back to see if any remain. “Had I known it would be the last time, I would have treasured every lick. I would have bought 15 of them.”
Additional reporting by Shanti Mathias.