COLUMN: May 12, 2016


AVUNCULAR PRESENTER: This week on Things We Buy Even Though We Know They Will Go Wrong, we’re going to get the bottom line on choc ices. Why do we still buy them even though we know they will go wrong? Let’s go over to Kerry McKerry in Switzerland…

[A montage of cuckoo clocks, Roger Federer, piles of Nazi gold, and cheese with big holes in it. Intrepid reporter Kerry McKerry walks along a very clean street.]

KERRY McKERRY: This is Zurich, home of things which come from Zurich, in the same way that there is a sign at Wolverhampton train station saying “Welcome to Wolverhampton, Home of the University of Wolverhampton.” And home too to somebody who does not come from Zurich but who went to live there: Derek Wilton, the shadowy inventor of the choc ice.

[Kerry walks up some stone steps to a Swiss castle in the mountains. A hunch-backed retainer opens the creaking door, and Kerry steps inside. She sits in a library with Derek Wilton, who is in a wingback chair and mostly in shadow.]

KERRY McKERRY: Derek Wilton, I suppose my first question must be, “Do you get a lot of people pointing out that you have the same name as Mavis’s husband in Coronation Street?”

DEREK WILTON: No. I live in Switzerland, and he left the show in 1997, so it doesn’t come up that often. I think it’s just you and Les Dennis who’ve brought it up.

KERRY McKERRY: So, choc ices? What were you thinking?

DEREK WILTON: That is very simple. You see, before I invented the choc ice, I invented both the carpet which bears my name, and the carpet cleaner. Now, the carpet became very popular, but I could not sell a single bottle of the cleaner.

KERRY McKERRY: They’re very easy to clean, Wilton carpets, aren’t they?

DEREK WILTON: Exactly. I was a victim of my own success. But then I thought, “If I can somehow manage to get people to rub some sort of stain all over their carpets themselves they will beat a path to my doorway to get their hands on my carpet cleaner.”

[Wilton’s voice over a montage of scientists in a laboratory.]

DEREK WILTON: So I got onto the boffins in my lab. I asked them to think of something that people like, but which could cause serious damage to a light carpet. They came up with Marmite, but apparently not everybody likes Marmite, and Bovril, but vegetarians are less keen on beef tea. And then, suddenly, nice chocolate!

KERRY McKERRY: Everybody likes nice chocolate, apart from the Americans.

DEREK WILTON: Exactly, but how were we going to transfer chocolate efficiently from people’s mouths to their carpets? The answer was to use something else people like: ice cream.

KERRY McKERRY: I don’t understand.

DEREK WILTON: It’s so brilliantly simple. When do people really like ice cream? When it’s very hot. What happens to ice cream when it’s hot? It melts.


DEREK WILTON: And that is the genius of a choc ice. We have something very brittle surrounding some liquid, like one of those liqueur chocolates you have at Christmas. It is therefore impossible for a person with teeth to stand and eat a choc ice without chocolate going all over the floor.

[Archive footage of a man wearing flares eating a choc ice in a laboratory. Scientists are measuring the amount of chocolate around his feet.]

DEREK WILTON (cont.): And what happens to chocolate when heat is applied? Have you ever tried to get a Jaffa Cake out of the cellophane when it’s sunny outside? You look like you’ve been mud wrestling. Even if the chocolate is not that warm, it melts as soon as you touch it to pick it up off the carpet. Hail me, for I am a carpet cleaner-selling genius. [Maniacal laughter]

[Kerry walking along a Zurich street.]

KERRY McKERRY: So that is why we buy choc ices. Because we are total idiots. Now back to whichever white middle-aged man they hired to do the easy bit in the studio, weeks after I schlepped all around the world with a stinking film crew.

AVUNCULAR PRESENTER: Thanks, Kerry. That’s all we’ve got time for this week, apart from this bit I am now saying. Next week on Things We Buy Even Though We Know They’re Going To Go Wrong we’ll be taking a look at the Conservative Party. Goodnight!

One thought on “COLUMN: May 12, 2016

  1. Hello Gary!
    Thanks for this, it reminded me – in a good way – of one of my favourite piece by my ultimate favourite stand-up comedian, Pierre Desproges.
    Out of interest* I poorly translated it for you (I just left out a vitriolic bit which was topical at the time for French media).
    The choc-ice bit was in the original text. 😉


    The Red String

    The guy who invented that kind of red string around the triangular portions of cream cheese, we can’t kill him, even though.

    It’s not possible that he did it on purpose… I’ll agree that there are, in the intelligence services, professional thugs who invent extremely sophisticated torture methods. But even the worst of them have their motives. It would not occur to them to electrically toast the testicles of a sworn civil servant for simple recreational reasons. They resign themselves to it only driven by reasons of state, in order, for example, to discover the microfilm on which are the plans for the new machine to electrify peckers, with laser…
    But the guy who invented that kind of red string around the triangular portions of cream cheese, it is not possible that he did it on purpose. He doesn’t even know the people who like to eat triangular portions of cream cheese. I mean: who would like to eat triangular portions of cream cheese. Not knowing them, he has no reason to hate them so much.
    A psychoanalyst would say without doubt that this guy – the guy who invented that kind of red string around the triangular portions of cream cheese – has sadistic tendencies. It is true that this baffling idea to make nooses to dairy products which didn’t do anything to you may seem at first to come from some sort of perversion. Be that as it may. It doesn’t prove that this guy is a sadist. The true sadist, to get his pleasure, he must witness the inflicted pain to others. But him, the guy who invented that kind of red string around the triangular portions of cream cheese, he’s never there to get an eyeful when I get up, famished, at three in the morning, with, to my stomach, the inane hope to make myself a cheeky slice of bread and cream cheese…
    So who is he? Perhaps he hears me. Blind hatred may not be deaf. Maybe he’s crazy, this guy. Maybe “crazy” runs in his family. It could well be a form of mental alienation more or less hereditary. Maybe his father is the guy who invented that kind of sticky wrapper around the Swiss fresh cheeses? Maybe his mother is the bitch who invented the hard chocolate which doesn’t stick around choc-ice? Maybe his grandfather is the bastard who invented the pull-ring that breaks on the lid of sardines tins, in complicity with the maniac who fills the oil to the brim?

    Maybe his grandmother is the old bag who invented the universal suffrage?

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