With the summer sun at its most potent and our cinemas flooded with new releases from standard school holiday fare to more serious Oscar-baiters, there’s no better time to be locked away in a dark, air-conditioned room with a bunch of strangers grazing on popcorn, pricey cola and of course that special kind of dessert only available at the pictures: the Choc Top.
O Choc Tops! How do we love thee? Let us count the ways:
– You go perfectly with coke and popcorn
– You make watching the ads at the cinema a pleasure
– You were still being made by hand back the 90s, before folks even wanted food to be artisanal
– You’re a proud, home grown, true blue Aussie feed
It is out of a sense of love and respect for the Choc Top that we at ripitup.com.au went out to all the major cinema chains across Adelaide, and ordered one of every kind of chocolatey topped ice cream available.
23 choc tops later (and several kilos heavier), we reckon we’ve established our credentials as connoisseurs. Here, for your convenience, is an exhaustive guide to the Adelaide Choc Top scene.
The jelly garnish? A nice idea. If temperature wasn’t a factor, it’d be a real success. However, extended time in a freezer has made it actually quite unpleasant to chew. The boysenberry ice cream is without any actual berries. The tart notes are from a syrup.
While the entire affair is obviously ‘artificial’, it’s still charming.
If it were a movie: Sleepless in Seattle
BOYSENBERRY (WHITE CHOC)
See above, but with a contemporary twist that seems exciting, but doesn’t add much.
If it were a movie: You’ve Got Mail
The Wallis Cinema Vanilla Choc Top is flawless. Everything done is done beautifully. Chocolate? Superb. Cone? Crunchy. The ice cream? Among the finest I have ever tasted. It is memorable – not because it breaks the rules – but because of how precisely it fulfills expectations.
If it were a movie: Monsters Inc
The nuts were not well secured in the chocolate, and they fell down our front. In surprise, we flinched, and in the process pushed our thumb through the cone. A most unfortunate result. What’s more, the delicate vanilla ice cream was overshaddowed by the intense nutyness. Essentially, there’s just too much going on here.
If it were a movie: Avatar
We must first address the candied banana garnish. It’s one of the least popular choices in the pick ‘n’ mix; it tastes almost as bad as the fake teeth, with none of the potential for humor. Frozen, the banana is even worse. Chalky. Hard. Yuck. The banana flavored ice cream? Slightly inferior to the corresponding paddle pop competitor.
We didn’t like this choc top. Yet, conceivably, we can see how it will be somebody’s favorite – somebody who thinks it’s ‘challenging’. Though it will never reach a wide audience, at least Banana is distinctive.
If it were a movie: The 7th Continent
We will point out at this time that all of the Wallis choc tops were a little on the skimpy side.
RUM AND RAISIN
An early contender for the greatest choc top ever made. There are raisins – actual, real raisins – in the ice cream. The sprinkles are immensely satisfying. The rum packs a real punch. It’s exhausting stuff, and will have you reaching for the cola; flavors so powerful as to border on oppressiveness. You don’t want it to end, but you’d collapse if it went on much longer. Bravo.
If it were a movie: Citizen Kane
Much here is visually stimulating (though, of course, visual stimulation is of little use in a dark cinema). White chocolate coating, and a cheeky marbled ice cream. It looks as though it will be an interesting, ground breaking experience. Actually, it’ turns out to be disappointingly conventional.
If it were a movie: Elysium
Very chocolaty. It’s enjoyable at first, and sweet throughout, but around the halfway point, one feels as though it’s just going on for too long. Perhaps we’ve become jaded and cynical, but it just doesn’t satisfy.
If it were a movie: Trainwreck
We continue our problematic relationship with the garnishes. Though visually lovely, none so far add anything positive to the gustatory experience. The mint ice cream, which we were looking forward to, turned out to be overpowering. Garish, even. Could be enjoyed only by those who don’t know the true pleasures of the choc mint genre done well.
If it were a movie: Lost In Space
CARAMEL POPCORN CRUNCH
We were ever so excited – just look at how visually stimulating she is! – but this turned out to be an absolute disaster. The texture of the popcorn was ruined in the choc-top-ifying process. These flavors do indeed go together, but are best blended at different temperatures. You want the hot popcorn and the cold ice cream to harmonize.
It seemed like this would make sense but, sadly, it does not. It merely reminds you of what was special about the originals, and leaves you to wonder how things went so wrong.
If it were a movie: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
PALACE NOVA CINEMAS
Palace Nova Cinemas do better with their waffle cone choc tops. The Chocolate Obsession – chocolate ice cream, chocolate topping – is aptly named. The ice cream itself is of a quality sitting somewhere between Golden North and Sarah Lee:
One caveat to our otherwise problematical enjoyment; there are traces of something red in the ice cream (cherry? berry?) and this is not reflected in the flavor. It is, admittedly, not the sort of thing you’d notice in the dark of the cinema. Don’t look too closely, and you’ll have a good time.
If it were a movie: American Sniper
CARAMEL HONEY MACADAMIA
The honey and caramel elements of this ice cream are both sweet, though in distinctly different ways. Truly, they’ve got a great on-cone chemistry, and the result is absolutely charming.
If it were a movie: When Harry Met Sally
Cafe Grande is for mature tastes. Does what it promises to do – coffee ice cream – but definitely not for children.
If it were a movie: Deep Throat
We were nervous in starting the factory made choc tops- the others all having been made lovingly by hand. We needn’t have worried; the mass produced vanilla choc top is as good as any artisanally made. It just goes to show that, sometimes, huge scale capitalist ventures can deliver transcendent quality too.
If it were a movie: Die Hard
There’s very little to say about the double choc, frankly. It’s chocolate on chocolate – no nuance, no harmony, no discord, no alarms and no surprises.
If you want a choc-tacular experience turned up to 11, then get this one. If, however, you are older than 11, chances are you’ll want something more interesting.
If it were a film: one of the latter in the Fast and Furious franchise
We are shocked – and thrilled – that something so complex, difficult, and wonderful made it through the corporate system. Salted Caramel, by rights, should not exist. We’re ever so pleased it does.
If it were a movie: Inception
Tastes like an after dinner mint. A by the numbers effort without heart or soul. Rehashes old ideas, and then makes them worse. Will we ever find a mint choc top done well?
If it were a movie: Fantastic Four
Absolutely wretched. This is the sort of disaster that simply shouldn’t happen in the mass produced system! There was, appallingly, only one ripple of boysenberry syrup in the entire ice cream. What is the damn point?
If it were a movie: John Carter
Spectacular. Behold the glace cherries – all five of them! Dusting the top with coconut was a thoughtful, welcome addition. Intricate and lovingly crafted, Cherry Eclipse features an all star cast and non stop pleasure.
If it were a movie: Ocean’s 11
WHITE CHOC CARAMEL GALAXY
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. White Choc Caramel Galaxy is ambitious – caramel, white choc, and hard, large, biscuit like chunks – but it just doesn’t work out. Still, good on the creators for trying. It’s only by risking going too far that we ever go far enough.
If it were a movie: Dune
THE DARK SIDE OF THE CHOCOLATE
Chocolate. Chocolate. More Chocolate. We get it. It’s impressive. There’s lots of it. But what’s the point? Where’s the heart? But then occasionally, you hit a vein of choc chip that reminds you why you first fell in love with chocolate in the first place.
If it were a movie: The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
This is the epitome of the mint choc top. All others tried and failed. The sprinkles are fantastic. The little bits of chocolate sprinkled throughout the ice cream are divine. In a difficult genre, with so many possible pitfalls, The Mint-Osaurus is an astounding success.
If it were a movie: Star Wars: A New Hope
The winners are, ultimately, and in no particular order:
HOYTS SALTED CARAMEL
WALLIS RUM ‘N’ RAISIN
But while Palace Nova’s individual flavours didn’t place individually, but probably were most consistent. A team effort, like the Mighty Ducks.
So go forth, catch a movie and enjoy the summer with whichever Choc Top best captured your imagination. We, on the other hand, had better go for a jog or something.