On sweltering summer days during my childhood, the only thing that could drag my friends and me from the respite of shade trees was the promise of sugary, iced treats. Running to the ice-cream truck or the local market with scrounged-up change in hand is one of those quintessential childhood memories that many of us share. And the goodies we gravitated toward, much like the experience itself, remain among the ranks of summer’s permanent representatives, along with barbecues and swimming pools. The names may have changed over the years, and the flavors may have branched out, but our favorite ice cream and Popsicle purchases are as popular and enduring as ever.
Whether you called them Drumsticks or Nutty Buddys, the combination of vanilla ice cream, a peanut-covered chocolate shell, and waffle cone with chocolate at the bottom is a hit at any age. Though the makers have enhanced them with caramel and fudge swirls, they still haven’t solved the “peanuts falling everywhere” problem.
Push-Ups come in a variety of flavors now, but when I was younger, it was orange sherbet or nothing. Kids don’t know how good they have it these days!
Generally, foods colored bright blue and neon green tend to turn people off, but Otter Pops are a special exception. Not only are these portable, slushy sugar rushes guaranteed to dye tongues funky colors, but each flavor has a fun character associated with it. (I was partial to Little Orphan Orange, but my friend—who, at the age of twenty-three, recently bought a Costco-sized box for himself—swears that Alexander the Grape is where it’s at.)
Not everybody grew up with Choco Tacos, but those who did carry a fondness for them that’s impossible to shake. They can be hard to find, but rest assured, there’s an ice-cream cart or random mini-mart out there still selling them.
Also known as orange Creamsicles, these vanilla-ice-cream-filled orange popsicles are a favorite hot weather treat for people of all ages.
These chocolaty popsicles don’t look especially appetizing (something about that color), especially once they start melting, but the creamy, sugary goodness makes up for their questionable appearance.
Few inventions are as celebrated as the addition of ice cream to cookie. I grew up with the magical calorie bomb known as the IT’S-IT: vanilla, chocolate, or mint chip ice cream stuffed between two cookies and covered in a delectable chocolate shell. In other parts of the country, people rally around the Chipwich, which has embedded chocolate chips instead of chocolate coating. In this case, I’d say an ice-cream sandwich by any other name probably tastes just as sweet.
It seems like there are as many names for this patriotic Popsicle as there are states in the United States. Astro Pops, Bomb Pops, and Mega Missile Pops were among the most common names given when I asked friends for their top ice-cream truck picks.
Eskimo pies, which consist of vanilla ice cream surrounded by dark chocolate and placed on a handy stick, are satisfying in their simplicity. They’ve made a few different versions—one with pieces of Crunch bar or a Butterfinger-flavored one, specifically—but people still reach for the original when they want a taste of nostalgia.
Whenever we indulge in something purely un-adult, like a Drumstick or Otter Pop, it’s almost like an escape from the responsibilities of our present—we remember a time when all it took was an ice-cream cone or Popsicle to make us truly happy. It’s comforting to know that for just a buck or two, we can get transported to our childhoods and give our taste buds a treat, too. And since they continue to be synonymous with summertime fun for generation after generation, chances are we’ll keep channeling our inner kids for years to come.
Updated August 20, 2010