diamond geezer

 Monday, July 12, 2004

Lotsa lovely lolly

Haven't ice lollies changed? Over the last few decades I mean. Ice lollies used to be fun, but they're now part of a corporate marketing customer brand strategy and they're not half as nice. Ice lollies used to come in myriad forms with sprinkles, gooey jelly centres and a variety of carcinogenic artificial colourings. Queue for an ice lolly now and your choice is limited to just a few premium-rich confections - one juicy, one creamy, one choc-covered and one a mixture of all three. Ice lollies used to be for kids, but now they're targeted at exactly the same generation of kids but 30 years older. It all used to be so different.

It's exactly 50 years since the Orange Maid and Strawberry Mivvi first arrived to brighten up the British summer. Corner shop cabinets were soon stocked with a variety of fruity lollies, waiting for us little urchins to trot up, pull back the glass cover and reach inside for our favourite. Much more fun than the modern equivalent of wobbling into the kitchen, opening up the fridge freezer and breaking into a Magnum multipack. And ah, those golden years in the mid 70s when the last bite of your lolly meant revealing the punchline to a particularly weak joke on the hidden half of the lolly stick.

If you'd like to bring those memories of long-lost summers flooding back, may I recommend this marvellous page that catalogues (most of the) Lyons Maid ice lollies manufactured since 1950. Fab! Which do you remember? Here are ten of my favourites:

Zoom (1964) Shaped like a rocket with three fruit flavours in horizontal stripes. The first lolly with picture cards under the wrapper and the first to cost as much as sixpence.
Fab (1967) Strawberry fruit ice with vanilla ice cream, dipped in chocolate and coated with hundreds and thousands. A real product of the swinging sixties, possibly named after Lady Penelope's numberplate, and still going strong today. I still buy them regularly, mmmm.
Mr Merlin's Magic Purple Potion (1972) I bought far too many of these when I was a kid, which probably stained my tongue purple and rotted my teeth but I didn't care at the time.
Haunted House (1973) A classic. When you ripped the wrapper off you found one of eight special pictures underneath etched in edible colouring, including Frankenstein's Monster, a spook, a skeleton, spider and web, some bats or a wicked witch.
Lolly Gobble Choc Bomb (1974) I was addicted to these magnificent creations as a child because lurking inside the strawberry flavoured lolly was a chocolate bar. Well, chocolate-ish, anyway. Cost me a shilling a go, and I got multi-coloured sugar balls too. Bring 'em back.
Merlin's Brew (1975ish) 'Minty chocolate flavour', which tasted so much better than it sounds. There was a wizard wielding a wooden spoon on the wrapper, next to an owl in a bow tie. I wonder if they slipped anything hallucinogenic into the ingredients too.
Space 1999 (1976) I managed to collect most of the special Space 1999 picture cards, probably because it was such a hot summer, but the pictures looked absolutely nothing like the real actors. Lime, vanilla and strawberry flavour with a soft centre, if you were wondering.
Jubilee (1977) The red, white and blue lolly, along with picture cards depicting every English monarch who'd reigned for 25 years or more. I risked permanent tongue-dyeing to collect the full set, which I still have somewhere. Wonder how much they're worth.
Star Wars (1978) A chocolate ice lolly with chocolate flavour coating. They really knew the way to a child's heart didn't they? Can't imagine Darth Vader ever eating one though.
Cider Barrel (1980) At last an illicit taste of adulthood, because this one was made with real alcohol wasn't it? If you ate three you'd become a bit tipsy, probably. A friend of a friend ate five and he couldn't walk for a week. Or so we told ourselves in the school playground.


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