The Lemon Top: An Institution

In everyone's life there are foods that evoke memories. The ones that carve out your very being, the ones that you think back on fondly, the ones you don't always appreciate until they're not there.

For some its mum's shepherds pie, for others its a dish at a favourite restaurant, for me its a lemon top.

For anyone who doesn't know a lemon top it is an ice cream on steroids. A regular 99 topped with a gloriously florescent swirl of lemony goodness. It's not quite known whether it's lemon ice cream or lemon sorbet, or even somewhere in between. All I know is that it tastes amazing and is as iconic to Scarborough as Fish and Chips.

I have been having lemon tops for as long as I can remember, apart from a short stint throughout my childhood when I went rogue and favoured a strawberry top instead. But it until recently I had forgotten about the wonder that is.

It was when I visited Scarborough for the first time with Mr M that the flame rekindled. I was excited for a day by the sea (as anyone would be) and proclaimed that the trip to the Scarborough coastline should be marked with a celebratory lemon top. The response I got chills me to the core even today:

"A what?"

A what.

There ensued a long speech about the wonder that is a lemon top, about the iconic nature of this brightly coloured taste sensation. Surely it was a worldwide wonder? Surely everyone has had one?!

Apparently not.

Of course what followed for Mr M was an education far greater than any academic achievement he could gain. One taste and he was sold. Of course he was, how could you not be?

"Sure," he said, "its nice, but its not that amazing." That's when it struck me: yes, this is a true taste sensation but perhaps, just perhaps, its nostalgia that makes it so great for me.

I remember having this ice cream when I was tiny, small enough to still not be able to pronounce my R's properly. When I taste it memories of Scarborough in the sunshine, out of this world rides with postman pat and my first family pet tucking into her own ice cream cone all come flooding back. Precious memories that are few and far between.

It reminds me of young days that stretched on for miles filled with the glistening wonder of 2p machines and hours running ragged with my cousins.

I have never seen these anywhere else. Not on the South West coast, not in the South East, not in Cleethorpes, not in Bridlington, nowhere. It is only Scarborough. And even if anywhere else did them they wouldn't taste the same.

They are a true icon of Scarborough and a true icon to me. Long live the lemon top institution.

Let me know; have you had one?!


  1. They're definitely sold in pockets of the North East, I think they're huge in Redcar near Middlesbrough. I'm yet to have one even though I've been living up here for 3 years now!

  2. Ah, I've never ventured that far up the country before! You need to try one...they are the stuff of dreams.

    B x


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