Because it's hot outside ... had you noticed?

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Image: The definitive ranking of ice creams and lollies

Photo: john.purvis / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: 16271433@N02

When a British heatwave strikes, there are only two things to be done: 1) moan, and 2) run for the nearest ice-cream van as fast as your flip-flops will carry you.

So in the interest of saving us all from melting like the Wicked Witch of the East, we set out to solve the ice-cream van mysteries that have haunted us all since childhood. You can thank us in chocolate Flakes and wet wipes.

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Cider lolly

With Associates / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: withassociates

12. Shandy lolly

If you’re ordering a shandy lolly, a cider lolly or any other variety of fake booze popsicle you’re either a) trying to make some kind of hipster statement or b) a child who has been mistakenly told that it’s possible to get drunk on one.


Either way, stop it. 


11. Fab

The sad fact of the Fab lolly is this: if they weren’t called Fab lollies, we might like them a whole lot more. We might appreciate the way they effortlessly blend chocolate and juice, we might enjoy the crunch of the sprinkles and marvel at the weird layer of … erm, icing?


But as it is, they overstretched themselves with a boastful name. Sorry guys. Next time, try ‘moderately OK lollies’ and let us decide for ourselves. 

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Fab lolly


10. Mini milk

Mini Milks are excellent in precisely three situations: when you’re counting calories, when you can only scrabble 30p together from the change at the bottom of your bag, and when you’re under the age of five.


At any other time, a Mini Milk is just a small, pale imitation of a proper ice-cream, and you should probably eat at least three to compensate. 

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Grease bubblegum gif

Grease / Paramount Pictures / via

9. Screwball

Screwballs are hard to come by in this day and age, but there was a time that they were seriously cool. In fact, they were the edgiest thing you could purchase at an ice-cream van, because at the bottom of all that safe, innocent ice-cream lies (gasp!) a gumball. What if it gets stuck in your hair?! Or on the carpet? What if you swallow it and have to spend seven years waiting for it to pass through your system?


We’re allowed to have bubblegum now we’re adults, of course, but somehow, the whiff of danger has never quite gone away.

8. Cornetto

The very definition of saving the best till last, Cornettos are only really good because of the solid chocolate tip. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either delusional or just really susceptible to a good advertising jingle. 

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Melted Cornetto on pavement

Pete / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: comedynose

7. Feast

In recent years, the Feast has been overlooked in favour of the swishier Magnum, but we’re here to say it deserves a revival. Feasts are the crotchety granddad of the ice-cream van. Sure, they may have a brittle, frosty exterior, but their heart is pure chocolate and love.


Or, ‘chocolate-flavour’ and love. Same diff. 

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6. Maxibon

It’s chocolate, it’s ice-cream, it’s cookies, it’s nuts, it’s a bar, it’s a sandwich, it's familiar yet has a glamorous, Euro allure – a Maxibon is all things to all people, except those with really sensitive teeth.


The only reason it’s not higher on our list is that it’s almost too indulgent to be an everyday ice-cream. Keep it for holidays, or you’ll spoil your dinner. 

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Maxibon classic

I, ARTE / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

5. Calippo

As close as you can get to a nice refreshing drink (without actually just having a drink), everyone knows the main joy of a Calippo is the bit at the end when you crush up the remains and pour them into your mouth like a slushy avalanche. Aficionados perform this trick halfway through, or, for real summer thrill-seeking, right at the start.  

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Marta Diarra / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: 119670994@N05

4. Zap

An outside contender and something of a cult hero, the Zap lolly is a master of ambiguity.


Firstly there’s the colour – a murky mix that's supposed to be a fun rainbow swirl but  actually comes out somewhere between army camo and ‘pond’. Then there’s the texture – not quite ice-cream, not quite lolly, not quite of this galaxy.


It’s apparently toffee flavoured, but the Heston-like colour confusion means it could be frozen infusion of kale and we’d still be pleasantly surprised. Then, most mysterious of all, there’s the fact that only about one in every three people remembers what Zap lollies are. Are they at the centre of some secret government brain-wiping plot? Is THAT why they’re called Zap?


Anyway, they’re delicious. 

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Zap lolly


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d3lll / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: 62001578@N03

3. Twister

Let’s Twister again, like we did last summer. And the summer before that. And all the summers that have ever been … back to 1982, when it was invented.


Like all the best ice lollies, Twisters are so much more delicious than the sum of its parts (which are: strawberry fruit ice surrounded by pineapple and pear-flavoured ice-cream, and no, we’d never have guessed that either).


“It’s the way you lick it in a spiral,” says one Homemade team member. “It’s the dichotomy of creamy ice-cream with the refreshing lolly centre,” says another.


“They’re fun in the same way a slinky is fun. You don’t know why, they just are.”



2. ’99

We’ve got 99 problems, but lack of delicious soft-serve ice-cream ain’t one.


There are a million reasons to praise the humble ’99, not least the introduction of chocolate as a scooping utensil. But the main reason it gets the number two spot is this: you will never, ever see someone with a ’99 without immediately wanting a ’99. It’s as simple as that. 

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99 ice cream

Distillated / CC BY-SA 2.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

1. Magnum Double Caramel


Sure, we’d all like to believe the twee innocence of a Mr Whippy is enough to earn it first place, but that’s just not the world we live in. Turns out there is something more delicious than nostalgia, and that’s vanilla ice-cream surrounded by two layers of chocolate with a layer of oozing caramel in between.


When a sweep of the local area doesn’t produce any Double Caramels, we’ll take a white, classic, pistachio or (at a push) almond variety instead, and still know that we’ve made a better choice than all our ice cream van compadres. Call us predictable, we don’t care – Magnums, you’re magnificent. 

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Magnum Double Caramel

Cyclonebill / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: cyclonebill

Honourable mentions

They didn't make the top 12, but they're still better than a poke in the eye with a lolly stick ...


Funny Foot​ – A very decent lolly – but if you really want your summer treat to be a hit, maybe don’t make people think about feet while they’re eating it. 


Fruit Pastille Lolly – All the more sticky colours to spill down your white linen trousers!


Solero – Because your mum's quite partial.


Are we right? Are we wrong? Have you had to abandon whatever you're doing and make a beeline for the nearest frozen treat vendor? Tell us below!