Essentially, summer is finally upon us, and you know what that means: we’re all going to be fishing around in our pockets for some spare change, dashing off to our local corner shop, and staring intently into the depths of their chest freezer.
There, buried beneath the frosted glass, we’ll find an array of old favourites: the Calippos, the Fabs, the Twisters, the Feasts, the Mini Milks. Each one lies waiting to be scooped out and liberated from its icy prison. Each is desperate to accompany you on your (socially distanced) walk in the park. And each claims to be the best ice lolly of them all.
But which one is really worth your time? After much discussion, I’ve come up with a definitive (read: entirely subjective) ranking of the UK’s best ice lollies.
You are very welcome.
As reported on 6 August 2020: Oh yes, “those really thin ones that are 70% ice”. Ice pops were a staple for many of us growing up, so they pack a certain nostalgic punch, but there’s no getting away from the fact that these lollies haven’t aged well. At all. Save your coins for something better, folks.
The people I spoke to in preparation for this article were adamant: rockets are not a top tier ice lolly. Not because they look nothing like rockets (who’re they kidding, eh?), but because they’re a poor substitute for the classic – and sadly discontinued – Zoom lollies of old.
I’ve been informed in no uncertain terms that Mini Milks are not an ice lolly: they are “an ice cream on a stick”. Which apparently means that, despite their deliciously creamy milkshake vibes, they’re disqualified from the running. Sad times.
Judging by Instagram, though, they’re very popular among the (ahem) canine community. Who knew dogs were such ice lolly – sorry, ice cream on a stick – fiends?
Much like Mini Milks, these apparently qualify as an ice cream on a stick – but what an ice cream! Chocolate, strawberry, more chocolate, and countless hundreds of thousands to sink your teeth into? Shut up and take our money!
Confession time: I haven’t seen one of these bad boys in years, but I have it on good authority that most ice cream vans have them in stock (if you can drag your eyes away from the classic 99 Flake).
With that in mind, then, why not relive the dizzying days of your youth and make-believe you’re drunk on an apple cider-flavoured block of ice? Or, if you prefer to keep things teetotal, opt for the lemonade or Coca-Cola versions: all equally simple, all equally delicious, all excellent value for money. Ch-ching!
A Strawberry Split is probably 90% ice cream, but it’s also covered in deliciously fruity ice and served on a stick. Hmm. I’m calling the shots here, people: this elegant little number deserves a spot on this list, and I’ll fight anyone who dare says otherwise!
Franco’s Banana Lolly
It takes like a frozen block of banana-flavoured Nesquik, guys. What more could you want?
Personally, I love a Fab: it’s like a Wimbledon-friendly medley of strawberries, cream, chocolate and sprinkles. So many sprinkles. However, through my research for this article, I’ve learned that Fabs are… well, that they’re every bit as divisive as Marmite. People either love ‘em, or they hate ‘em. And if they hate ‘em, they really fucking hate ‘em.
“They’re absolutely rank,” insists one such Fab hater, when I ask for further clarification. “I don’t like chocolate mixed with what is essentially a frozen fruit drink. You wouldn’t dip your Toblerone in your squash now, would you?”
A fair point, I suppose. And, on the bright side, I suppose this does leave more Fabs for the rest of us to enjoy…
If Fabs aren’t going to make it to the dizzying heights of the ice lolly world, then neither are Feasts. It seems people want something far more refreshing and fruity from their ice lollies than they do chocolate, more chocolate, and chocolate-covered nuts. Their loss, I suppose.
Fruit Pastille Lollies
Ah, a worthy contender from the people at Rowntree’s. This lolly packs a punch with no less than five fruit-flavoured segments, each beautifully distinct in colour and taste from the last. These do melt pretty quick, though, which means you’ve gotta be quick slurping it off that wooden stick.
I would have argued, based on previous complaints, that this lolly is an ice cream. Apparently not, though, as people were willing to fight me over WhatsApp for hours in a bid to secure Solero’s place as a top tier ice cream. I guess I can see their point: yes, it’s largely vanilla ice cream… but all of that exotic fruit sorbet keeps things refreshingly tangy, too. Maybe it defies definition and labels, eh? Maybe it can be… both?
Everyone seems to love a Calippo. Everyone. It’s easy to see why, too: the clever packaging design means you don’t get sticky melted lolly all over your hands (unless you tip it upside down, of course) – and, whether you go for the orange or lemon & lime option, it boasts a good, strong fruity flavour. You’re also usually left with a nice post-lolly drink at the bottom of your Calippo tube.
The only complaint I heard?
“I like Calippos, but I sometimes get frustrated with them because they take ages to melt and come out of the tube.”
It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that the Calippo has been tumbled to second place. Which means our number one slot goes to…
Clearly the supreme ruler of the ice lolly world, the Twister received resounding praise from all quarters. Yes, there’s ice cream involved, but when I pointed this out to my focus groups* they insist it’s “not the same as the Mini Milk situation” because…
Well, because this one is 85% lolly, 25% cream. At a push. And it is, after all, pineapple-flavoured ice cream, which keeps things feeling fresh as a daisy – particularly when combined with those twisted lime and strawberry fruit ice elements.
Throw in the fact that the spiral design keeps things from getting too drippy on a hot day, and you have yourselves a surefire winner of an ice cream. So get thee to your local and bag yourself one (or five) before the weekend: it’s the ideal (some might say only) worthwhile accompaniment to a summer’s day.
* Please note that my focus groups are entirely composed of colleagues, friends and family. All of whom proved themselves to be incredibly passionate about this article when they learned what I was writing and keen to make their opinions heard.