I am not sure if it’s because I keep hankering after a soda-stream, or if it’s down to me eating fondue for dinner, or maybe because bands like Yeasayer and Ariel Pink keep filling my ears with luscious 80s sounds, heck, perhaps all this talk of Tory cuts and union strikes is to blame, but I am feeling curiously nostalgic. I have been recreating meals at home of the kind I ate when I was but a slip of a girl and making retro sarnies to take to work which could have come straight from my mum’s fair hands. I have been rendered zombie-like in shops and supermarkets when thinking of exciting meals to cook and the impulse-buys have been getting out of hand. My basket now heaves with Angel Delight, a rainbow of jellies, pounds of sweeties and stacks of crumpets. Retro-tastic. Comfort-food-o-rama. It can’t get any sillier. But wait, last Friday, hungry and petulant, dazed and confused, I bought an Arctic Roll. Yes. You read that right, an Arctic Roll.
It was axed cruelly for slumping sales, but reappeared riding the wave of nostalgia, in the 1970s and 1980s – you know, the good old days – more than 25 miles of Arctic Roll were sold each month. I think I can say with some confidence that about a mile of which was snapped up by the Sierp household.
Despite the lack of 80s packaging, one look at the box and I was hooked. It had me at Bird’s Eye. Into my sweaty paws it went, £1 later, it was coming home with me. Hours later I whipped it back out of the freezer and unpeeled the wrapper. It looked the same. Pale sponge, yellow ice-cream with that bright pink swirl. And it smelt comfortingly familiar. There was only one thing for it though, to tuck in. And… and… well, the taste troubled me. My memories had clearly built the Arctic Roll into a colossus of a dessert. But, years later, like uncovering a poster of your teenage crush, it was well, crushing. The flavour that seemed so vivid had been turned down to mute, the sponge was oddly dry. Had it always been this way? It was, I am afraid, a slice of disappointment.
Are there any other desserts I should be sampling? Any childhood puddings which I need to get scoffing? Anything which will be sure to put the Pleasure into guilty pleasure? I think should make it clear that I will do A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G for a tub of Gino Ginelli’s. Rum and Raisin or Tutti-Frutti flavours preferably.
Oh and one final thought, I noticed that production of the Arctic Roll was halted in 1997, the same year as the landslide Labour election. Bought back to assuage the recession weary, our food habits clearly reflect what’s happening in the papers and what’s in our wallets. Are there any economists reading this blog – no, thought not – who could please plot the rise and fall of the British economy against the sales of Arctic Roll. I think I could be onto something here..