Best snowman? Snow contest.

THE first decent snowfall of the season was greeted with cheers and applause in our house this week.

It means much joy, as our boys head for the shed to dig out their trusty sledges, snowball guns and more.

It is also the official start of snowman-building season.

Interest in building our annual snowperson (it is usually male, but a couple of years ago it was christened Hilda, so it’s always best to check) has shown no sign of abating, despite our sons’ advancing years.

There is something brilliant about their rosy-cheeked enthusiasm for the whole process, and something heartbreakingly touching about the fact our youngest is always in tear-stained bits when the inevitable happens and his beloved creation melts once more.

Our snowpeople vary in size, shape and gender; have had stones and bits of wood for eyes and carrots and twigs for noses; have worn hats, scarves and gloves; and regularly look on the verge of toppling over. The Harry Potter years saw the addition of magic wands (sticks) and Gryffindor scarves; and when snow is plentiful, there have been snowbabies, ice forts and more added in to the mix.

It’s interesting to learn, therefore, that mathematicians with some time on their hands have come up with the formula for building the perfect snowman.

Commissioned by insurance company MORE TH>N, Nottingham University’s Dr James Hind has assessed several variables when assessing snowman-ufacturing, including height, number and diameters of snowball tiers, freshness and purity of snow, accessories and outdoor temperature.

The perfect snowman, therefore, must be 1.62m in height; be made up of three tiered balls of snow with diameters of 30cm (head ball), 50cm (body ball) and 80cm (leg ball) respectively; and follow the golden ratio of three accessories (hat, scarf and gloves), three buttons on the chest at an equal distance from one another and a carrot nose exactly four centimetres long.

Even more hilariously, the team put the formula to the test by evaluating some of the nation’s favourite fictional snowmen against it.

Bad news for poor Olaf from Frozen, who despite being one of the nation’s favourite snowmen with 36% of Britons favouring the popular Disney character over any other – only scored 15 out of 100.

Conversely, the eponymous flying figure from Raymond Briggs’s classic tale is one of the closest to meeting the criteria for the perfect snowman, scoring 73 out of 100.

Dr Hind, tongue firmly in cheek, declares: “There are many contrasting opinions about what makes the perfect snowman, but this research should settle the debate.”

No debate in our house. Our magnificent, messy, alarmingly lop-sided snowpeople are definitely the best.