Originally published by The Spinoff
A note on semantics: I am very aware that “ice block” has a particular meaning, one that doesn’t involve cream or chocolate. But in order to be succinct, I am using “ice block” to mean anything purchased from the chest freezer. After conducting an internal Spinoff poll, it seems this is a real sticking point for people. Or I just work with a bunch of losers. You decide.
Once again I have made a huge mistake. The thing about reviewing chips, lollies and biscuits is that while you need to acquire every single one, you don’t have to eat the whole packet to judge it. But eating an ice block is an experience and you can’t just take one bite to know what that experience is like. Which means I have spent the past month eating two to three ice blocks per day and it has ruined me. It’s ruined me financially because of my inability to ask for a receipt. It’s ruined me physically after what was a surprisingly good lockdown, health-wise. And it’s ruined me digestively thanks to a mild allergy to dairy.
But now I look ahead to summer armed with full knowledge of my options and potentially irreversible damage to my body. I hope this list helps you make good choices too.
Sorry to Nice Blocks but in order to be included, products had to be from a range readily available in most dairies and petrol stations. They aren’t, but they are nice.
Anything requiring a spoon to eat is disqualified. Do you know how many random little pottles are out there? Too many. Bad for the environment and I refuse to participate (read: it would’ve made the list way too long and hard to finish). There is one exception to this rule which you’ll see down the list.
Where did Splice go?
87-76. Trumpet – Chocolate Salted Caramel (Tip Top), Trumpet – Choc Sunday (Tip Top), White Chocolate & Raspberry (Kāpiti), Vanilla Bean (Kāpiti), Peach & Melon Sorbet (Kāpiti), Magnum – Chocolate Cookie Crumble, Cookie Crumble – Unicorn (Streets), Cookie Crumble – Chocolate (Streets), Paddle Pop – Strawberry Milkshake (Streets), Paddle Pop – Icy Blast Off Lemonade & Raspberry (Streets), Caramel & Almonds (Kāpiti), Maxibon – Honeycomb
I visited more than a dozen dairies and petrol stations and never saw these items. And in my many discussions about this list, not a single person mentioned any of them as being a favourite. Therefore I feel very fine putting them all down here in virtual disqualification. If you have any objections I’m sure you’ll let me know. But now for the actual ranking.
75. Calippo – Star Wars Blueberry (Streets)
The existence of this ice block makes me question my own mortality. It’s blue, it stains everything including your teeth, and it tastes like off-brand Raro. Apparently if you take the whole thing out and put it in upside-down, it kind of looks like a lightsaber. But so does the cardboard wrapping-paper roll and you wouldn’t eat that.
74. Paddle Pop – Spider-Man 3D Ice Strawberry (Streets)
This one was genuinely terrifying. I thought it would be the size of a V-Pop (remember those) and instead it was massive and bumpy and didn’t really look like Spider-Man at all. It also tasted bad.
73. Paddle Pop – Icy Blast Off Minions (Streets)
What the hell is happening at Streets? How much money did Disney pay them to create these monstrosities? I don’t like this collaboration one bit. The only Disney product that should be anywhere near a freezer is Walt.
72. Popsicle – Fruity Tube (Tip Top)
This is clearly Tip Top’s attempt at a Cyclone rival and oh boy is it bad. It’s too watery, which means the ice is a literal block, rather than crushable, and the flavours taste like that cordial that used to come in a two-litre bottle of concentrate.
71. Cookie Crumble – Coco Pops (Streets)
I was excited for this one so my shattered dreams are why it’s placed unfairly low. I like Coco Pops and I like Cookie Crumble, but turns out the taste of cereal is so intimately associated with the inside of a kitchen that to taste Coco Pops while walking on the street feels unholy. Would’ve been better with milk aka if it was melted.
70. Bubble O’Bill (Streets)
How the mighty have fallen. Bill used to run this town. The power he had over the children of Aotearoa has yet to be matched. Now he is but an amorphous blob, no discernible cowboy hat to be seen. The chocolate on the back is surprisingly great, but the gum – formerly the drawcard – is the last thing you taste and leaves a truly disgusting film in your mouth. Ruined my day, actually.
69. Vanilla Slices (Tip Top)
There are a few ways to make a sticky mess as an adult. The best don’t cost $1.80.
68-67. Calippo – Raspberry Pineapple (Streets), Calippo – Lemon (Streets)
I’m ranking these two together because despite being different flavours, they’ve been demoted for being the same flavour by the end: cardboard.
66. Polar Pie (Tip Top)
Why is there not just a plain vanilla ice cream with a chocolate shell? A Polar Pie with a stick. Because the admin involved in eating a stickless frozen treat means the treat itself has to be so good to justify it. A Polar Pie is not that. Introduce (or bring back) a 99c plain ice cream on a stick. We’re adults and shouldn’t need to be licking our fingers at the park.
65. Joy Bar (Tip Top)
See above, but with raspberry sauce.
64. Cookie Crumble – Froot Loops (Streets)
See entry 71. This one at least has pretty colours.
63. Calippo – Star Wars Watermelon (Streets)
This is only here because I forgot to put it at second-to-last. Didn’t ask for it, don’t want it.
62. Rocky Road Caramel (Tip Top)
Look, it’s fine. But there are at least three versions of this concept that are better. And when you can have the caramel flavour with actual caramel, why go with a fake version?
61. Cornetto – Vegan Vanilla (Streets)
Full disclosure: I couldn’t find this one and thought I had put it in the disqualified list and now it’s too late to change all the numbers. I assume it’s good but not great, like most things in life.
60. Magnum – Las Vegas Caramelised Chocolate & Cookie (Streets)
Too sweet. All of these new fancy ones are deceitful in that they taste really great on first bite and then by the end of it you genuinely feel like throwing up.
59. Memphis Meltdown – White Bikkie (Tip Top)
How many people actually love white chocolate? Who is choosing not just one sweet variation (biscuits or white chocolate) but two (biscuits and white chocolate)? It’s too much for my little brain to handle.
58. Cornetto – Cookies (Streets)
It’s not bad but you’ll be surprised how many waffle cone options you can get at the dairy and petrol station. Arguably too many, and this one could probably go.
57-55. Memphis Meltdown – Mint Bikkie (Tip Top), Memphis Meltdown – Big Bikkie (Tip Top), Memphis Meltdown – Big Hokey Pokey (Tip Top)
They’re too big! This isn’t a fun snack, this is a meal. I had the Big Hokey Pokey at work after lunch and then had to lie down on the couch for a few minutes. I appreciate that Big Bikkie is an attractive concept but strongly believe cookies and cream ice cream should be eaten in scoop form on a cone, not entombed in chocolate on a stick.
54. Magnum – Vegan Almond (Streets)
“It’s average. It’s like when you accidentally order oat milk and it tastes like cardboard but in magnum form.” – Someone who’s not allergic to almonds. This one isn’t included in the photo below because I didn’t know it existed until this very moment sorry to the vegan community.
53. FruJu – Orange Rush (Tip Top)
The least successful sibling of the FruJu family.
52. Jelly Tip (Tip Top)
Hear me out: Jelly Tip sucks. The flavours are nice enough but it is far too much risk for such a mediocre reward. Eating the flavours separately? What immature nonsense is this? That’s like when you’re a child and think it’s fun to eat a pie by peeling off the top and scooping out the mince. But then you grow up and learn that that’s not how pies work.
I also bought one for a full-grown adult colleague and she had to get a plate to eat over because it started dripping immediately. It’s time to take your jelly-tinted glasses off and realise that a Jelly Tip ice block doesn’t deserve your love or effort.
51. Paddle Pop – Rainbow (Streets)
Disappointing! Enjoyed them as a child (the target audience, to be fair) but now it falls in the sad grey area between a chocolate sweet and a fruit sweet.
50. Trumpet – Hokey Pokey (Tip Top)
It’s a fine experience but hokey pokey is another flavour that tastes so much better rolled into a ball.
49. Chocolate Brownie (Kāpiti)
Still very sweet. I love a sweet as much as the next loser but this was a bit much.
48. Magnum – Tahiti Passionfruit White Chocolate (Streets)
Again, it was love at first bite and deep resentment at last bite.
47-46. Trumpet – Colossal Cone Butterscotch Caramel Crunch (Tip Top), Trumpet – Colossal Cone Cookies & Cream (Tip Top)
Too big! I thought this meant the cone would be bigger but instead there’s just a giant puck (the actual shape) of ice cream on top of the regular cone. Which means you’re pretty well sick of it by the time you get to the heart of it. To make it confusing, the size of it made the cookies and cream ice cream like a scoop and therefore quite good, but still, too big.
45. Trumpet – Vanilla (Tip Top)
Trumpet has done a stellar job of creating its own unique flavours and in the process has rendered its staple flavour redundant.
44. FruJu – Raspberry & Lime (Tip Top)
Did you know FruJu stands for Fruit Juice? I didn’t. I also am just assuming this based on the capital J so if it’s wrong, please let me know.
43. Paddle Pop – Icy Twist (Streets)
Streets ice blocks have a more slushy consistency compared to the compact-shaved-ice of Tip Top’s range. It’s a consistency I like but doesn’t compare to a Lemonade Popsicle. Yes I did eat both one after the other during a lunch break and yes I did feel bad about it.
42. Trumpet – Chocolate V GF (Tip Top)
Vegan Trumpets are surprisingly good but still not as good as regular trumpets. Once again, my sincerest apologies to the vegan community.
41. Trumpet – Chocolate (Tip Top)
And chocolate isn’t even close to being the best Trumpet.
40. FruJu – Tropical Snow (Tip Top)
I used to think Tropical Snow was a top five ice block. Something about the sorbet texture was such a relief for my sensitive teeth. But upon revisiting I realise the texture doesn’t make up for the confusion of flavours. What is it? I don’t know and I’m scared to find out.
39. Magnum – White (Streets)
It’s not the best Magnum and it’s not the worst. Would accept a free one but won’t be buying again.
38. Magnum – White Almond (Streets)
See above but with almonds so I guess better?
37. Chocolate & Hazelnut (Kāpiti)
36. Trumpet – Banoffee Pie (Tip Top)
This should’ve been named Perky Nana because that’s exactly what it tastes like. A fun experience to try once and then never again. The threesome of the freezer section.
35. Memphis Meltdown – Big Nuts (Tip Top)
Still too big but in the interests of not relegating everything with nuts in it, this one gets a nice middling spot for what I have heard is a middling product.
34. Magnum – New York Chocolate Cheesecake (Streets)
“On first bite, delicious. On sixth bite, too sweet. But amazing flavour of cheesecake, can’t deny that. Did not transport me to New York.” – a colleague who ate this on my behalf and clearly agrees with the “too sweet” review of the entire range.
33. Magnum – Honeycomb Crunch (Streets)
Pretty good! No further thoughts besides a fleeting memory of the crunch being lovely.
32. Cornetto – Classic Chocolate (Streets)
Cornetto cones are the poor man’s Trumpet but at $2, that’s clearly the goal. I thought I could eat this one but boy do they love to just sprinkle peanuts on everything. A trusted colleague said it was yum but not something they’d pick if given the choice.
31. FruJu – Pineapple Crush (Tip Top)
A decent collab between ice and pineapple. Perhaps the best pineapple collab since Kenny Rogers teamed up with Dole to make this incredible ad.
30. Goody Goody Gum Drops (Tip Top)
I was pleasantly surprised by this one. On its own, the sickly sweet flavour can be a bit much, but with a thin casing of chocolate and on a stick, it felt a lot more manageable. And for some reason the gum drops weren’t so rock hard.
29. Oreo Sandwich
I had one of these about a year ago and remembered it being fine so chucked it further down the list. But in the process of typing out this short novel, I have eaten one again and it’s amazing. Supports my theory that cookies and cream should be just that and that alone.
Note: the images are now out of whack due to this last minute promotion. Please ignore.
28. Magnum – Peppermint (Streets)
I thought this would be a fun mint treat and instead was like eating a giant After Dinner Mint. There’s a reason those things are small. I can imagine the smaller version of this that come in the box would be a near-perfect dessert but unfortunately that’s not what’s being judged here.
27. Maxibon – Vanilla
According to the packaging, this sandwich contains just 1% hazelnuts. I’m allergic to hazelnuts but what’s 1% in the face of objectivity? So I ate some. I would like to go on the record and say that there’s some sorcery here because it tasted exactly like a Ferrero Rocher (famously yum and famously more than 1% hazelnut). Quite impressive despite the hives I got shortly after eating it.
26. Dark Chocolate & Berries (Kāpiti)
Didn’t they used to hand these out on Air New Zealand flights? I couldn’t find any at the dairies I visited but if they’re the ones I’m thinking of, what a lovely dessert with lovely sorbet consistency. And if it’s not what I think it is, well, ignore this.
25. Memphis Meltdown – Gooey Raspberry (Tip Top)
I wanted to love this more than I did because I appreciate that Memphis Meltdown cornered the market on raspberry. But maybe there’s a reason for that. The gooey raspberry was pretty sweet and at $4.90, it was the most expensive ice cream in the freezer. At that price, you have to be offering something extra special. This was special, but not extra special.
24. Pineapple, Lime & Coconut bar (Weis)
Welcome to the ring, Weis. These ice cream bars are relatively new to the freezer but they give me just a little bit of hope in stickless frozen goods. It’s technically ice cream but there’s not as much of it as, for example, a Polar Bar so it doesn’t turn into a melted mess so quickly. It still does, just not so quickly.
23. Trumpet – Boysenberry V GF (Tip Top)
This is frankly just a not-as-good Boysenberry Trumpet. Scroll down for that review and then minus 10% and you’ll know what this is like.
22. Magnum – Caramel & Nuts Bar (Streets)
A cute dinky size, probably the smallest on the list. The caramel interior was good and subtle, it didn’t smack you in the face. Almost more like a novelty chocolate bar than an ice cream. At least that’s what the person who ate it for me said.
21. Peanut Slab Bar (Whittaker’s)
I’ve heard people rave about this but also have heard a lot of people not know it exists. “Not as good as an Almond Magnum” was uttered by two separate people on two separate occasions so I’ll take their word for it.
20. Cookie Crumble – Cookie Crumble (Streets)
There are two types of people: Cookie Crumble people and Rocky Road people. I’m Rocky Road till I die but I can appreciate a worthy opponent.
19. Cornetto – Classic Vanilla (Streets)
Life is all about perspective. Cornetto may be the poor man’s Trumpet but the Cornetto Classic Vanilla is the rich man’s soft serve cone. The ice cream is no frills, the chocolate is sparse and there’s no sauce in the centre. And yet, it does exactly what it says on the budget packaging: it’s a classic taste with just a bit of flare and it shocked my colleague with its quality.
Yes, I have spent the past month asking my colleagues please can you just eat this nutty ice cream at 10am.
18. Magnum – Almond (Streets)
I heard a lot about how good Almond Magnums are so I’m putting it right here at a respectable 18 even though if I ate one I would likely end up in hospital.
17. Nelson Boysenberry (Kāpiti)
We love boysenberry ice cream in this country, more than literally any other. A classic flavour with a chocolate twist, and you know Kāpiti ice cream is going to be creamy as. A real class act.
16. Trumpet – Jelly Tip (Tip Top)
If you’re thinking wait, didn’t you very obnoxiously say that Jelly Tip sucks about 2,000 words ago, yes I did. But my issue isn’t with the flavour, it’s with the delivery system. In a waffle cone, with the jelly, chocolate and vanilla ice cream mixed together, Jelly Tip doesn’t suck. When treated right, it’s actually very good.
15. Passionfruit & Yoghurt (Kāpiti)
Passionfruit is too sweet to pair with ice cream, or at least passionfruit flavouring is. But where Kāpiti has nailed it is by pairing the tangy sweetness with yogurt ice cream, making for a lovely balanced dessert. Bravo, an unexpected delight. The closest thing to Splice or Paradiso left.
14. Memphis Meltdown – Gooey Caramel (Tip Top)
For some reason, caramel is sexy. It’s advertised as some sort of sultry ingredient (see: Toffee Pops) for the horned-up consumer. Which is why I deeply respect Tip Top for taking a sexy product and advertising it with… Alf Stewart from Home & Away. “You trying to bribe me, boy?” What a line. Something I didn’t notice as a child but certainly do now is how terrible the woman’s accent is. Gotta love it.
13. Magnum – Double Caramel Ego (Streets)
Despite the incredible ad from Memphis Meltdown, the equivalent Magnum is a superior product. You don’t really notice until you eat them at the same time (which I regrettably did) but while the two are virtually identical, the ice cream in a Magnum is just that little bit richer. Like a plain vanilla vs a vanilla bean. Always go for the bean.
12. Paddle Pop – Chocolate (Streets)
Most joys from childhood lose their shine as we age into calloused husks but the Chocolate Paddle Pop remains a delight. A simple concept, masterfully executed.
11. Popsicle – Slushy (Tip Top)
The one exception to the “no spoons allowed” rule. For us frugal types, this was the ice block of choice because of the sheer volume. So much product for the same price as a middling ice cream. Before frozen cokes stormed the scene, the Popsicle Slushy was the gateway to a frozen drink. My sister wanted me to include that for the cash-strapped teens, it also doubled as a lovely red lip gloss during a day at the beach.
10. Trumpet – Mint (Tip Top)
For the slightly wanky person in your life, the Mint Trumpet is the way to go. It’s minty, but not overwhelmingly so, and it makes for a lovely palate cleanser after a lunch of fish and chips.
9. Popsicle – Lemonade (Tip Top)
I hadn’t had one of these for about two decades but was amazed by how refreshing it was. It is essentially a slab of crushed ice with a bit of sugar on it and guess what, it works.
8. FruJu – Mango (Tip Top)
Scandalous to put a brand new product in the top 10 but the heart wants what it wants. I love mango and almost ranked this as the best FruJu but restrained myself. If regular FruJus are frozen Raro in essence, the Mango FruJu is a frozen Tank juice. Just that little bit thicker (which sounds gross but isn’t) and more obvious in its fruit flavours. A real delight, this bad boy will likely be my summer fling.
7. Mango Bar (Weis)
But oh, this beauty. There’s an assumption that ice blocks will be natural in flavour but ultimately artificial at the same time. Not this one. This tastes like a beautiful frozen mango. And while it doesn’t have a stick and therefore is a bit stink, it also has no chocolate casing so is a tidy bar to eat and perfect for when you want to feel like you’re being healthy even though you aren’t.
6. Rocky Road Strawberry (Tip Top)
Somehow this is the cleanest treat to eat on the whole list. The biscuit puffs keep it from melting too quickly and there’s no chocolate casing to carefully bite through. It’s a safe, sturdy, reliable option for all the centrists out there. The strawberry flavouring is very artificial but isn’t pretending to be anything else. Maybe I have Stockholm syndrome from always getting Rocky Road in the mixed packs (that also had Choc Bars and Jelly Tips) growing up because I was one of the youngest and they were always the last ones left. But that’s something for me to speak to a professional about.
If this placing makes you angry because you’re team Cookie Crumble, just pretend I put that one here instead. They’re really not that different.
5. Magnum – Classic (Streets)
Pure class(ic). The ice cream in Magnums is unmatched, and when it comes to class, less is more. This Classic Magnum is one for the ages. Simplicity at its finest (in the fine dining sense), all you get is ice cream with a chocolate shell. And that’s all you need. The shell is thick enough to not melt immediately or crumble at the first touch, and the ice cream is soft, rich and not too big in size. If you ask a group of people what they want from the freezer and one says “you choose”, a Classic Magnum will never fail.
4. FruJu – Grapefruit & Lemon (Tip Top)
It’s the tang that does it. Grapefruit has had the greatest PR team for decades. Grapefruit diet? Grapefruit diet?! The embarrassing hold this weird fruit has had on us as a species finally began to wane in the 2010s as people realised that half a citrus fruit doesn’t really constitute a meal.
But its one redeeming feature is being in this classic pairing. Just the sourest of sour treats that somehow works. You wouldn’t give this to a child (and you wouldn’t steal a car) but this isn’t a list for children.
3. Trumpet – Boysenberry (Tip Top)
I am trusting the people on this one. Aotearoa’s obsession with boysenberry as a flavour is funnelled through this crunchy waffle cone, given a sprinkle of nuts for good luck, and catapulted to the podium. Enjoy it, you non-nut-allergy-having elitists.
And outside of the below entry, all Trumpets (and therefore this one) have the best final bite with that little cone of chocolate. I just couldn’t put a non-stick ice block in the top spot. It didn’t feel right and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.
2. Choc Bar (Tip Top)
Is there any greater bite of dessert than that last mouthful of chocolate from a Choc Bar? It’s not even the nicest chocolate and yet… it is. The coconut in the outer shell elevates a plain and ordinary treat to a world-class experience. Like putting shaved truffle on macaroni and cheese. Or me, when I put on mascara once a year. We all have a Choc Bar in us somewhere, and if you haven’t already, I hope you find your coconut in 2022.
1. Cyclone (Streets)
The perfect frozen treat. It has everything: lovely fruit flavours, a beautiful consistency, a size that is both not miniature and not comically large. A cyclone is unassuming in that it doesn’t even try to compete with the FruJus or Trumpets of this world. It is wholly original, with no spin-offs or novelty versions. A Cyclone is a Cyclone is a Cyclone. When we are all dead and gone, a Cyclone will remain a Cyclone.
Eating a Cyclone also strengthens one’s soul. To eat a phallic-shaped food in public requires a level of self-confidence that frankly not everyone possesses. Face your fears and work for that reward. Because if you find yourself on the beach or at the park, eating a Cyclone in the summer breeze without a care in the world, only then will you know that you are free.
Cyclone is the best ice block in New Zealand.
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