In this hot weather, there’s fewer things more disappointing than seeing a shop advertising lovely ice cream, ordering it, only to find a guy scraping out frozen solid scoops of ice cream and plastering it haphazardly onto a cone, especially at the seaside when you’re hoping for something softer, swirlier, creamier and more delicious – and maybe with a Flake?
Solid ice cream has always been rubbish.
Years ago, whenever the ice cream van arrived, parents, to save money on buying individual ice creams, would often send their kids out to buy something imaginatively called the “ice cream block.”
This was a large rectangular block of ice cream – the clue was in the name – wrapped only in cardboard.
If you lived more than 5 doors away from where the van was parked, your ice cream would become a sorry runny mess of creamy cardboard before you got back indoors.
To solve this problem, scientists invented plastic tubs to store the ice cream – presumably the same scientists who suggested non-biodegradable polystyrene boxes instead of paper to wrap chips because “the environment” hadn’t been invented yet.
The blocks would come in 3 flavours: Vanilla, Strawberry and Raspberry Ripple which in some families counted towards their child’s “five-a-day.”
Once home, parents would give their eldest child a large kitchen knife and the impossible task of dividing the block into equal slices without the aid of a ruler to measure accurately.
Naturally, the eldest child always ended up with the biggest slice and their deliberate inability to cut ice cream into equal portions were the first recorded cases of knife crime.
As children, our neighbour drove an ice cream van that he’d park outside and for years we assumed his name was Mr Softee until one day we received his post by mistake and were amazed to discover he was called Bernard Bobkiss.
When I saw him in his van, I ran outside to give him his post and he, typically, drove away up the road playing Greensleeves.