This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.
For Indonesians who grew up in the 90s, Viennetta was a treat reserved for special occasions, if you were a really, really good kid. It certainly wasn’t something you could sneak into the grocery cart when your mum wasn’t looking, because she’d notice the hefty price tag.
No other desert has achieved such a cult following in Indonesia like Viennetta. Its manufacturer, Wall's, stopped producing the layered ice cream cake in the early 2000s, much to the dismay of children nationwide.
But on April 1, Wall's announced on Instagram that Viennetta would once again grace the country’s supermarkets and convenience stores, thanks to a petition to bring back the desert. The petition, launched by Viennetta enthusiast Pramirtha Sudirman on Change.org, garnered nearly 75,000 signatures.
Sudirman’s petition demanded that Wall's revive the “luxury” ice cream, which first hit the local market in 1982, for nostalgic reasons. When Viennetta was still available in stores, 90s kids could never afford it on their own. When they grew up to be adults who could afford it, the ice cream was discontinued. Viennetta was a status symbol and instantly made you the cool kid in school.
Unfortunately, it appears, the supply of the new wave of Viennetta did not meet the demand.
Shortly after Viennetta was reintroduced into stores, netizens documented their quests to find it and satisfy their childhood cravings, but many complained that the desert was nowhere to be found. One netizen even wrote that the ice cream was easier to find in WhatsApp groups, where people were selling it at inflated prices.
Instagram user @awirachma took it upon himself to “investigate” why Viennetta was in such short supply. A video uploaded to Instagram shows him lifting the rack in a convenience store freezer to find a box of Viennetta beneath it. He claimed that the store workers had hidden it for themselves under the guise of “saving it for a customer who ordered it online.”
This sent hungry netizens into an uproar, forcing Indomaret and Alfamart, Indonesia’s two largest convenience store chains, to issue statements on the matter. Both chains took to the press to deny claims that their staff were hiding the good stuff. Neither offered an explanation to the video, leading some netizens to believe the Instagram video had been staged.
“We never ask our staff to ‘hide’ or separate products, even if it’s something so enticing to shoppers,” said Nur Rachman, a spokesperson for Alfamart. Both convenience store chains have promised to take swift action against any employees caught hiding or hoarding Viennetta.
Viennetta has a similar cult following in other parts of the world. In Australia, it is a favourite for special occasions like graduations and birthday parties. When Wall's began selling Viennetta on a stick in London and Beijing, Aussies successfully petitioned Wall's to make the product available to them as well.
Nostalgia will always be a hot commodity, and Wall’s is certainly taking advantage of that. But to the many Indonesians scrambling to get their hands on Viennetta in the middle of a pandemic, the product is a taste of their fondest childhood memories.