I’m legitimately gobsmacked at how many ice cream own-brands my local Tesco somehow manages to squeeze into its Tardis-like freezer section.
Standing in the ice cream aisle of dreams this week, heatwave impending, I faced a tough call it was my public duty to investigate the type of ice cream which would be most urgently needed by fellow Londoners during the hot weather.
The humble choc ice wouldn’t cut it, I thought – there won’t be enough to compare between brands.
The exotic Solero – or as I like to call it, ‘the Karen ice cream’ – has always had an air of aloof mystery about it that makes me think it’s more suited to a posh mums’ picnic than a sunny weekday in March.
The majestic Magnum was too luxurious – more of a pudding than a daytime treat.
It had to be the Cornetto.
I hate the word, but a classic, coned ice cream can really only be described as ‘quintessentially’ British – a necessary constituent of a hot day in the UK, along with an embarrassing straw hat and a raging sunburn.
And when it’s too long since payday to justify the organic-homemade ice cream scene of Shoreditch, and the dulcet chimes of an ice cream van are nowhere to be heard, clearly the Cornetto is the next best thing to a Flake 99.
The Cornetto is a crowd-pleaser, an age-old classic, a timeless ice cream formula that nobody ever thinks to argue with – because why should they?
Well, if that’s what you’re thinking, I urge you to withhold judgement until you have read on.
I compared the classic Cornetto to Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s ice cream cones – and I was shocked at what I discovered.
My first surprise came when I got the ice creams out of their boxes – and saw how much smaller the Cornetto cones were.
At 90ml per cone, the Cornetto was 20ml smaller than its 110ml supermarket counterparts.
Withholding judgement on the ‘size matters’ debate, I then did a blind taste test to compare the three – and found myself becoming more and more surprised at every turn.
Here’s how the three brands compared.
Tesco Chocolate and Nut Ice Cream Cone
Size: 110ml per cone
Price: 25p per cone
Ice Cream Filling: 6/10
Chocolate Wafer: 9/10
Chocolate-filled Tip: 9/10
The cheapest by a decent stretch, Tesco’s cone was a decent size, the ice cream tasted good (if a little cheap) as well as featuring two different flavours – vanilla and chocolate – which kept it varied, the filled tip was well-filled, and the toppings were generous.
Furthermore, the Tesco cone had outstanding choc-factor; It had the thickest chocolatey layer on its wafer cone, the most chocolate topping, and a fat pillar of rich chocolate ice cream running down the centre to boot.
Chocolate-lovers: this is the ice cream cone for you.
Sainsbury’s Toffee and Vanilla Ice Cream Cone
Size: 110ml per cone
Price: 30p per cone
Ice Cream Filling: 10/10
Chocolate Wafer: 7/10
Chocolate Tip: 10/10
Although the chocolate around the top of the wafer wasn’t as thick, Sainsbury’s had over-compensated in other ways; the top was loaded with deliciously chewy toffee, the tip was deeply filled, and the ice cream was a decadent swirly vanilla-and-toffee delight.
But the crowning glory of this cone was the ice cream core; a thick pillar of creamy toffee filling, running all the way from top to bottom of the cone – it was heavenly.
Cornetto Classic Ice Cream Cone
Size: 90ml per cone
Price: 33p per cone
Ice Cream Filling: 4/10
Chocolate Wafer: 9/10
Chocolate Tip: 5/10
The Cornetto cone was significantly smaller than the own-brand equivalents, the toppings were lacklustre in comparison, the chocolate tip was barely filled, and the ice cream itself was the blandest, most desperately homogenous substance imaginable.
And unlike the Tesco and Sainsbury’s versions, there was no delicious chocolate or toffee core to break the monotony.
The Cornetto’s only redeeming feature was its nuttiness – the cone had proper hazelnut chunks on top, and you could tell; they crunched satisfyingly, and didn’t taste synthetic.
Maybe you’re an ice cream purest and prefer your ice creams plain, without any frills (I’m looking at you Cornetto).
But for me the entire point of a Cornetto is its supposed abundance of indulgent toppings and lavish chocolatey coatings.
Cornetto’s description of its ice cream ‘experience’ includes the following line: “For over 50 years we’ve been perfecting our Cornetto recipe, making sure the taste of every Cornetto ice cream is better than the last.”
Well, frankly Cornetto have gotten way too big for their boots – and it’s time the nation knew about it.
To call the bland, clinically-white substance contained within the cone ‘vanilla flavour’ is an insult to the name of ice cream.
And considering the so-called ‘legendary chocolate tip’ contains little more than a centimetre of chocolate filling, I propose Cornetto should be required to re-brand it as a ‘run-of-the-mill chocolate tip’.
I feel – quite passionately – that we need to stop Cornetto from continuing to undeservedly milk the cash cow that is their brand name, by spreading the word that supermarket own-brand ice cream cones are much, much better.
Sainsbury’s ice cream cone was the clear winner – a victory which I put down to the sheer deliciousness of the toffee filling and chewy toffee topping.
But the Tesco cone came a close second – and both brands left the real Cornetto miles behind.
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