Born for a double-bill, Viennetta and Arctic Roll both sit in a unique socio-economic and philosophical niche. They are also both, clearly, ice cream centred.
This pair of freezer fancies are low-value products with ever-diminishing status – possibly even maligned. They are most commonly seen in highly mediocre convenience outlets such as Costcutter and Spar. They are local and relatable, yet so highly contrived as to be vaguely mysterious.
They are the dickhead mates with hearts of gold, there when you need them to somehow both mock your situation and improve it, if only for a short while. They are a cold warmth, a gaudy backslap in times of struggle.
Reader, I have been in both Viennetta and Arctic Roll moments on many occasions. Admittedly, Arctic Roll is generally a fallback in the case of no Viennetta stock, and my consumption of it so infrequent that I neglected to notice that it had been both discontinued and revived. Regardless, the links continue.
Wall’s and Bird’s Eye, the respective manufacturers, find themselves struggling for relevance in a world of faux-artisan options. It is somehow incredible that these products cling on to the shelves of mainstream commerce, yet they do, rather like the fallen big-time comic now doing free shows of the same material in the upstairs rooms of pubs at the Edinburgh Fringe to die-hard returning customers.
It is time for the reviews, I suppose. OK then.
Viennetta is almost indistinguishable across its various flavour and colour guises. This is reassuring. The ice cream is more often than not initially rock hard, then on the verge of melting after three minutes in a bowl with no intermediary period of consistency. This is also reassuring. The crunch of the chocolate layered effect is delectable, the chocolate itself less so. All in all, it is uniquely of itself.
Arctic Roll offers a vanilla/raspberry and a double-chocolate option. The latter is untrue to the source material, so should not be considered as an edible option. The soft-sponge-meets-ice cream effect does not pack the punch of the Viennetta. Ultimately, despite also being uniquely of itself, it does suffer additionally in comparison to its review-mate due to it bringing back horrible flashbacks of school lunch hours.
There may not be many years of shelf life left for these hardy veterans of low-brow dessert. My advice: stockpile.
Arctic Roll: 7/10