In the UK, at least, the mercury doesn’t have to rise much higher than around 18 degrees to legitimise excitement at the sound from an ice cream van. From childhood nostalgia to sweet-tooth satisfaction, the range of frozen desserts on offer means that there's a summer treat for just about everybody.
Dangerously few people, however, are aware of the strict correlation between ice cream choice and taste in books. To remedy this, we've called in a crack team from the Literary Office of Lickable and Luscious Iced Extravagant Somethings to weigh in and help the populace connect their hot weather delicacy of choice to their next reading pick. No need to thank us.
The 99 is so much more than the sum of its parts: a pointedly dry, crispy cone, some overly sweet soft-serve ice cream, and a flake, if you’re feeling fancy. The 99 is a summertime totem, the symbol of a golden afternoon. It is timeless, it is chic – it can, at times, be a little boring.
That said, it’s a classic for a reason, which is why should be enjoyed with something well established from the canon:
Brontë, Dickens, Dostoevsky – all those heavy hitters. You're telling us you're holding anything other than a 99 in one hand, and big Tolstoy in the other? Unthinkable. Twister
Sure, the adverts are famously sultry - all that provocatively cracking chocolate and women with blow-dries enjoying themselves - but don’t let that fool you. Eating a Magnum is no idle undertaking; the clue’s there in the name. The rich bulk of premium vanilla ice cream, the thick coating of chocolate, the nuts, the caramel? That’s not an ice cream one eats on a whim.
Eaters of substance are readers of substance, which is why crime novels go hand-in-hand with these behemoths of the freezer aisle.
John le Carré, Agatha Christie, Raymond Carver; the kind of hefty, unputdownable (have you ever tried to put down a Magnum, though) tomes that will change your reading habits for life. Feast
Ah, Feast. There’s little to complain about with a Feast. Chocolate? Delicious. Biscuit bits? Delicious. Secretly chunky nuggety core? Surprisingly delicious. To appreciate layers like that – flavours; textures; mouth-feel – takes a connoisseur. And those connoisseurs, familiar as they are with feasts and flavour, must be reading cookbooks.
While we’d approve of indulging in any cookbook while eating a Feast, but we recommend you start with something from the bibliography of
Nigella Lawson – truly, a writer who lures you in with chocolate before astonishing you with serious literary bite, and fit, we hope, for a palate as refined as yours. Tub of Ben and Jerry’s
We're busy people; we don't have time for the kind of petty bickering that would ensue if we suggested the best Ben and Jerry’s flavour. What we do know, for certain, is that you're kidding yourself if you think you're eating
part of a Ben and Jerry's tub on the evening. You, bestie, are about to eat that whole thing; that or split it very carefully with a much-valued – and trusted – friend. And either way, that's an achievement. You're going to want a suitably epic book to accompany that.
Classicists may opt for
, or even Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea . Those looking for more contemporary reads may want to plump for Moby-Dick by Rachel Joyce. Miss Benson’s Beetle
And hell, might as well just say it: the best Ben and Jerry's flavour is obviously Phish Food.
Do you ever find yourself wistfully craving the soft, soothing comfort of a Mini Milk on a stressful summer’s afternoon? Small, perfectly formed and containing an honestly staggering amount of calcium, this wholesome treat is steeped in nostalgia for simpler times.
If you’re eating Mini Milks on the reg, chances are you’re a bit of a nostalgist, familiar with children’s books. You’ll have your favourites, we're sure, but can we direct your attention to Zadie Smith and Nick Laird’s
, Weirdo or Moomin and the Midsummer Mystery We can’t put them down. Kiki’s Delivery Service? Viennetta
Cheery, bright and packing a punch, the humble Calippo is something of a rite of passage for all ice cream eaters. Have you even lived, if not to have experienced the chilling humanity of spilling defrosted Calippo down your front? To eat a Calippo is to cool down, grab a second and return oneself to the slings and arrows of raw youth – like reading YA fiction.
With Calippos and YA fiction alike, there’s no strict age limit. Our top summery picks are
by L.A. Rosen, Camp by George M. Johnson and Savannah Brown’s All Boys Aren’t Blue . The Things We Don’t See Solero
Refreshing, indulgent and with no business being that creamy, the genius creators of the Solero clearly ignored the parental advice not to mix citrus and dairy. And thank heavens they did: nothing says 'summer' like a Solero. We're not sure it’s physically possible to eat one between October and March; like a flower that doesn't bloom until the spring, the wrapper, we're told, won't open.
Which is why, fond fan, we think you’ll be enamoured by a good beach read.
by Emily Henry is an extremely solid start (as is, of course, her debut You and Me on Vacation ), or perhaps crest a wave with Beach Read by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Whatever you plump for, make it pacy, fun and with a whiff of romance – like your favourite summer treat. Malibu Rising Cornetto
The Cornetto is a complex all-rounder. Let's review: waffle cone not to be messed with; elaborate topping of nuts; chocolate; other flavourful goodies; the satisfyingly expensive shiny cardboard you’ve got to peel from its cliff-like sides; and, of course, that not-so-secret nugget of chocolate smuggled into the base of the cone. Only a fool would throw away a Cornetto before getting to the end.
This complex cream-of-the-people is complicated enough for serious thought but has absolutely nothing to prove, making it the sweet, frozen equivalent of the kind of popular non-fiction that captures the minds of millions of readers: think the erudite but accessible work of
Stephen Fry, Yuval Noah Harari and Caitlin Moran. If you have an issue with a Cornetto, the Cornetto has a smart, well-argued rebuttal. And yes – they're good to the very end. Foot Lolly
If your favourite ice cream is a Foot Lolly, we think erotic fiction might be right up your street. We'll thank you kindly not to ask any follow-up questions.
Sure, a Fab may
look simple enough, lovely retro classic that it is, but anyone who’s experienced the unsettling feeling of biting through vanilla-flavoured ice while sprinkles sit on your tongue knows that a Fab contains strange, hidden depths – what inner flavour looms in your future? Following us yet? Fabs are sci-fi.
Whether you opt for the classily minimalist covers of Penguin’s Science Fiction series (Anna Kavan’s
would be a particularly fitting choice, we think) or go old school with Ice Necromancer, or Nineteen Eighty-Four , do it with a Fab (or a Zoom – those are sci-fi too, obv). Frankenstein Gelato
It’s easy to overlook a choc ice. Perhaps it's even been a good while since you unwrapped one of these childhood friends. And yet, who could feel negatively towards them?
Choc ices go as hand-in-hand with school holiday nostalgia as slippy slides, daytime TV and youthful days spent immersed in a book. Here's what we'd do if we were you: we'd grab ourselves a box, dust off our much-loved copy of
or Anne of Green Gables and dream of the days when we still assumed teachers lived at the school. I Capture The Castle,
Disagree with our ice cream experts? Email email@example.com and let us know.
Image: Alicia Fernandes/Penguin