What's the very first thing you think of on a hot day in Ireland? For some, it's cold pints, but for me, back then, it was HB Ice Cream.

Even now, the memory of those sugary and creamy indulgences can evoke a time and a place like almost nothing else.

In fact, there have been times in my adult life, now living an ocean and decades away from those lost days, when I would have happily dropped everything, sold my soul even, for an ice-cold Loop the Loop (a lime and lemon flavor sherbet with a chocolate flavor topping) and then a quick swim in the clear as glass water of my local lough (even a brisk paddle would have been enough). 

Do you remember summers in the 1980s in Ireland? What a day that was! Almost 17 hours of sunlight at the height of summer up in Donegal and – in those rare moments when it turned clear and warm – you could see for miles.

Does anything invoke past summers like a HB Ice Cream poster?

Does anything invoke past summers like a HB Ice Cream poster?

Do you remember how adults would use HB Ice Cream as bribes for good behavior? How your nice aunt would treat you to one for no reason at all? Or how your not-so-nice aunt would threaten to withhold them all because you were little spoilt brats that deserved nothing? Was that just me? 

I remember eating a Maxi Twist (a vanilla tub with neon green and red toppings that had the color and texture of cough syrup) in a parked car in the rain in Bundoran, which is how we often holidayed before the word staycation was even invented.

Even now, I get a small jolt of Proustian pleasure thinking about the inexpressible delights of an Orange Super Split. First, there was a sweet citrussy orange blast and then, underneath, an unexpectedly soft vanilla center of tender ice cream lurking under a frozen shell. It was heaven. Literal heaven. I feel sorry for anyone who didn't know that era and its petit morts.

Some people liked those overwrought creations called Brunch, with their weird hundreds and thousands of toppings, but I favored the simple but sensual pleasures of a good old Choc Ice. Even to see one on an old poster now transports me faster than a DeLorean time machine back to 1984.

Another simple but classic indulgence was the HB Vanilla Tub, a mini treat that was no less satisfying for that - or the heady later-in-the-80s chocolate flavor treat that was Feast.

They all spelled summer parks, trips to the beach, bicycle rides, music concerts, and things we did long before the internet. And it all seems so far away now until you reconnect with one sweet bite.

* Originally published 2021. Updated in July 2023.