When the ice cream van used to come round to our road on those hot summer days in the early 1980s, I was never a Cornetto kind of a girl. I never went mad for Funny Feet, Zoom or Fab lollies either: for me, ice cream happiness was to be found in a cheap plastic cone, to be eaten with a device that looked like a smaller version of the spade you took to the seaside.
But the ice cream wasn’t even the best part of it: no, dig down through the raspberry ripple flavour good stuff and you’d find a small ball of bubble gum – wahey! (Screwballs were also a good way to feel a little bit rebellious if your parents didn’t realise there was bubble gum at the bottom…)
The bubble gum wasn’t the best quality of course; it was incredibly hard, not very tasty and if you didn’t break your teeth on it you’d certainly sprain your jaw trying to soften it enough to blow a decent bubble – but just the thrill of knowing it was under the ice cream was enough to make the Screwball worth the money.
(And if that wasn’t good enough; imagine my delight when the ice cream van was stocked with 2 Ball Screwballs! (The difference between the two being fairly obvious…)
Along with the raspberry ripple there was also apparently a Blue Raspberry and Lemon Swirl version, although I don’t remember my ice cream man ever having that particular one. These were the pre-packaged versions of the treat with a thin cardboard lid but you could also sometimes get them directly from the ice cream man’s swirly soft ice cream machine. And that obviously meant you could have one of his overly-sweet sauces on the top of it. All that and bubble gum too!
Screwballs are still available to buy from shops but I’m not sure that’s the same. I think the only way to really enjoy a Screwball, as an adult, is by adhering to the following steps:
- Hear distant sound of ice cream van’s chimes and immediately abandon whatever it is you are currently doing.
- Attempt to locate your purse /somebody else’s purse.
- Fail to find said purses or anybody else’s wallets and desperately search through every area in the house for loose change. Resort, guiltily, to child’s money box, making mental note to reimburse later.
- Attempt to locate shoes.
- Fail to find said shoes and leave house in one slipper and a flip flop.
- Run to ice cream van, which, when you get to the end of your front path, has a queue of approximately one small toddler, but by the time you get there has, at the very least, quadrupled in size.
- Finally get to front of queue, pay for Screwball, take cardboard lid off and prize plastic spatula/spoon type thingy out of frozen ice cream.
- Walk back to house, trying to get frozen ice cream out of the cone with said plastic spatula/spoon type thingy before giving up and finding a spoon.
- Worry about breaking a tooth and leave bubble gum in bottom of cone.