This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in June 2016.
Remember those childhood summers, and the pure adrenaline that would rush through your sugar-addled system at the sound of a tinkly "Greensleeves" chime? Out into the street you'd rush, clutching three quid in shrapnel, and swarm that ice cream van like a vulture upon a strawberry sauce-smothered carcass.
OK, so that was just last week. No one can resist the jangly siren call of the ice cream man on a hot summer's afternoon. But with so many E number-packed lollies and luridly sauced cones to choose from, the real question is: What to spend that sticky handful of 10p pieces on?
To settle the debate, we headed to Mario & Luigi's ice cream van in London's Victoria Park, elbowed some whiny kids out of the way, and ate six of the best in classic British ice cream van offerings.
Enjoy the nostalgic sugar rush and don't blame us for the brain freeze.
Rating highly on the sliding scale of phallic ices is the Twister. The classic version of this ice lolly features a strawberry core, surrounded by lime and pineapple-flavoured swirls. Ice cold bonus fact: West Midlands Safari Park has a whole rollercoaster ride dedicated to Twisters.
Calippo may come in a variety of flavours (lime or bubblegum, anyone?) but ultimately, they all have that same, vaguely tropical taste and enjoyable push-up eating mechanism. Plus, the orange ones are apparently 20 percent real fruit juice, so that's basically one of your five-a-day.
Sleek edges, smooth milk chocolate, proper vanilla ice cream, and a curvy stick without a dad joke printed on it—Magnums are basically the Posh Spice of the ice cream world. We'll pretend we didn't see that weird advert they did with Kendall Jenner looking like she'd never held an ice cream before, the Magnum is pure, dessert class. Just don't call it a "choc ice."
Also known—apparently—as a strawberry mivvi, strawberry splits are the ice lolly/ice cream hybrid that no one asked for. As you bite through the pink fruity bit to get to the vanilla ice cream below, the whole thing will inevitably start seeping out of the bottom and down your entire lower arm. As wasps start swarming, it's a race against time to attack the strawberry split from both ends. Nobody wants that in an al fresco dining experience. Make up your mind and just get a Mini Milk.
An underrated wafer-based ice cream, the Oyster Delight comes with the added extra of mallow under the soft serve, as well as a luminous strawberry sauce. It's the thrifty choice that just keeps on giving, right down to its vanilla-coated, coconut-sprinkled base. Minnie approves.
It's not summer until someone complains about the price of a Flake 99. But we'll still dig deep to get a hold of that Mr Whippy ice cream, swirled high upon a cardboard-like wafer cone and triumphantly speared with a Cadbury's Flake. Watch the seagulls don't get to it before you do.
All photos by Liz Seabrook.