The Cheaper Guide to Life

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Last week I received a most wonderful email from MyGov encouraging me to check my Centrelink inbox. What fun! A highlight of anyone’s life after a few months without a hug or physical touch.

After reciting the lyrics to Down Under backwards and complaining about the changing climate with no intention of doing anything like a good Australian, I was logged in and ready to view this exciting message! I scanned the website and clicked on the PDF that informed me that my Student Allowance had been reduced to $25 a fortnight.

Ahhhh shit…

This month’s Cheaper Guide to Life is dedicated to Centrelink and the incomprehensible black magic determining who gets what in that deep abyss of governmental control. 

While I sit in my dorm and cry over my new weekly budget of home brand weetbix and water, I think of those unfortunate enough to have picked degrees with exams. As these are fast approaching, I thought it best to choose something to carry us through our frantic and depressive episodes of studying or almost poverty. This month is Vanilla Ice Cream!

It’s a fact that no one in their right mind views the vast and insane selection of ice cream at the local supermarket only to pick out vanilla ice cream. However, it’s a brilliant test of brand quality! If you can’t make a good vanilla ice cream, how the hell are we supposed to trust your ability to mix whatever random shit you’ve got lying around in a tub and slap the word ‘connoisseur’ on the front!?

As always, the marking criteria remains the same. Taste, Appearance, Satisfaction and Price determine the success of these purposely plain tubs of dessert. If you want more details on what these mean, look at the best article from the last issue for context.

Peters No Sugar Added 1.2L

Taste – 6/10
Appearance – 7/10
Satisfaction – 6.25/10
Price – 5/10

First out the freezer and a sign of some much needed dietary variety in this test. There is also a lactose-free version and a vegan-friendly version of the same ice cream. But what does it taste like? Well, vanilla ice cream. What were you expecting? Somewhat unsurprisingly, it isn’t as sweet as some others, and the deceptively large container encourages you to eat way too much in one go. Not bad, quite nice, and suitable for everyone! (except those allergic to fun)

Häagen-Dazs Vanilla 457ml

Taste – 6/10
Appearance – 5.5/10
Satisfaction – 5.5/10
Price – -1/10

One word for this one; disgraceful. It comes out of the tub yellow, it’s a bizarre texture, it’s over $25 a litre, and they aren’t even Dutch! With such a foreign-sounding Scandinavian name like Häagen-Dazs, they trick you into thinking they have some sort of hidden expertise that outweighs the talents of others. But they don’t! They’re American parading behind a made-up brand. My life is ruined. Points deducted for flippant use of an umlaut.

Woolworths Essentials Vanilla Ice Cream 4L

Taste – 4.75/10
Appearance – 7/10
Satisfaction – 6.75/10
Price – 10/10

I’ll be the first one to say I correctly cocked up the order this time around. By starting with the two most expensive ice creams in this test, expectations were a little high. Two of our judges winced at the disappointment that lay in front of them while the other judges smiled a little as they were reminded of home in the sugary-sweet, practically water, fluffy excuse of ice cream. It is so unbelievably cheap, and it tastes cheap. But there’s just so much of it that you can’t complain! 

Bulla Vanilla Ice Cream 2L

Taste – 6.25/10
Appearance – 7.5/10
Satisfaction – 6.5/10
Price – 8/10

If you were to average out the scores from each ice cream, this one comes out on top. It is the cheapest branded ice cream per litre available on the market as of 2021. With that in mind, it’s alright. It won’t win any awards, and it won’t blow you away. It’s the sort of ice cream you let melt on a pudding or drown it in milo for a bit of excitement. The best because it is the least offensive.

So what ice cream do you buy?

I hope you’re starting to notice an underlying trend here. Because the judges all come from different economic backgrounds, all the scores come around to a mediocre 5, 6 or 7. This is because the affluent like the expensive stuff, and those brought up on cups of ice cubes during summer are just happy to be here. It all comes down to need. If you’re on a crash diet of bread and booze, treating yourself to a pathetic tub of Häagen-Dazs won’t ruin your life. But if you’re at your wit’s end, crying over the muscles of the pelvic floor or the nerve endings in the spine, you better admit defeat and grab a 4L tub of sweet nothing from your local Woolworths at a price cheaper than petrol.