Emer McLysaght: With Choc Ices in the grave, I feel a little piece of us has died too

What will they take next? Loop the Loops? Cornettos, for the love of God?

With supermarkets offering their own knock-off versions, it’s not very surprising that the Choc Ice is making way for double caramel Magnums. Photograph: Michael Cockerham/Unilever/PA

My late dad loved a Choc Ice. They were second only to 99s on the God tier of his ice cream hierarchy of needs. However, while 99 season typically stretches only from May to mid-September if we’re lucky with the weather, Choc Ices were a year round accessible treat. Like many Dads before him and since, he called all ice creams “Choc Ices”. Cornettos, Loop the Loops, Feasts – all were “Choc Ices”. When he gave you a pound to go into the shop and “get a few Choc Ices”, we knew he meant one for him and whatever we wanted ourselves.

I’m glad in a way, then, that he’s no longer around to see the demise of the once great classic of the ice cream cabinet. HB confirmed earlier in the summer that the Choc Ice has been discontinued because its popularity has waned so much. With supermarkets offering their own knock-off versions in multipacks and the constant ostentatious evolution of what’s on offer to consumers, it’s not very surprising that the Choc Ice is making way for double caramel Magnums and Ben and Jerry’s Peace Pops (the little peace symbol made from cookie dough is delicious in fairness).

Ice pops find their way into the news cycle every summer without fail. Usually, it’s an availability announcement like this discontinuation of the Choc Ice, or the return of an old favourite – handily, the Choc Ice news gave HB a reason to remind us that the Feast is back. The Lord giveth, etc. Every few years the baying for the return of the classic 1980s and 1990s ice pop Fat Frog generates some headlines. At this stage if they do ever come back, we’ll have to declare another new bank holiday. The nostalgia factor with ice cream and pops is high and those retro posters featuring 10p Chilly Willies and Sparkles and the offensively branded Golly Bar are almost as effective as the power of smells like fresh-cut grass for evoking memories of hazy childhood summers.

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The Choc Ice probably isn’t really gone forever. Like the Super Split before it, it may be slightly rebranded and sold in supermarket multipacks to make more room in petrol station ice cream cabinets for more luxury, high-price items. Indeed, the Choc Ice might thrive in the supermarket. While away on a trip with some friends and their kids a few years back, one of the dads was dispatched to the shop for the usual supplies of toilet roll and bread and promised “ice pops” for the kids. When he returned with a bumper pack of Choc Ices, I realised that it must be genetic, that something innate had drawn him towards the box in the freezer section. The children, Generation Alphas used to Fruit Stacks and Oreo ice cream cookies, were mutinous and ate their Choc Ices grudgingly. The dad in question seemed dazed by his own choice, mumbling “but everyone likes Choc Ices” while questioning if he even liked them himself.


When Cáit, the titular Cailín Ciúin from Colm Bairéad’s Oscar-nominated film, was given a pound note by her gruff surrogate father Seán to buy a Choc Ice for herself I cried for the first of many times. When gently scolded by his wife that the child could buy half a dozen ice creams with the pound he asks, “what’s the point of having her here if we can’t spoil her?”. That this brusque farmer was just a loving father at heart, sure that a little girl would enjoy his favourite treat, reminded me of my own dad eager for me to get an ice cream so that he could have one too. I remember watching and waiting for something terrible to happen to Cáit at the hands of Seán, and it never came. He just showed her he loved her in small gestures. A pound for a Choc Ice, a biscuit on the kitchen table.

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Not to be all “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone”, but with the Choc Ices in the grave with O’Leary it’s difficult not to feel like a little piece of us has died too. What will they take next? Loop the Loops? Cornettos, for the love of God? I’m not sure the dads of Ireland will ever get used to Toblerone ice creams and Peace Pops, and I love them for it. I want them calling salted caramel almond Magnums “Choc Ices” until the end of time.