June 28, 2017
Let’s hop in the wayback machine and revisit the first week of June.
Those were heady times when my lad and I had some free time on our hands. Since he’d just represented himself artfully well at a soccer-academy tryout one night prior, the situation called for a walk to Sundaze, an ice-cream, fro-yo and water-ice purveyor in Ventnor, N.J.
After perusing the offerings, I settled on a cup of Mint Chocolate Chip water ice. My life forever changed as, after the first unusual spoonful, I realized I’d yet to taste such an exquisite dessert since I first saw Baked Alaska presented on a cruise ship as a lad myself.
Alas, mint chocolate chip water ice isn’t widely available. Yet. (Mint chocolate chip “cream ice” is not the same, fam.) America is still a work in progress.
That moment got me to thinking about the very essence of water ice – called Italian Ice by less refined people, I hear – and the differences between the flavors themselves.
As Rita’s “Italian Ice” is the pre-eminent vendor of said treats in the region (and beyond), the time is nigh to rank them according to bestestness based upon its offerings.
The company lists 39 flavors on its website. I will not rank them all, as I have not tried them all.
Thus, flavors excluded from this post include Banana, Blue Raspberry, Florida Orange, Georgia Peach, Green Apple, Guava, Honeydew, Island Fusion, Juicy Pear, Mango-orange, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Raspberry-Lemonade, Raspberry and Strawberry Lemonade.
Maybe you like some of those (or some of the novelty flavors that surface from time to time). That is your right.
Now, onto the flavors of which I’ve sampled at least a spoonful. I've ranked them from worst (20) to best (1). You may disagree with these, but they are presented in definitive form.
20. Lemon. Only bland people like bland water-ice flavors in circumstances other than “this is the only kind the ice-cream guy had left in his carrying-case fridge.”
19. Blueberry. Blueberries are almost as bad as pickles. I say this as someone who can still feel blueberries embedded in my nose after a 7th grade pie-eating contest.
18. Peanut Butter and Jelly. It’s fun to feel like a kid. It’s funner to feel like a kid whose parents made a cheese sandwich instead of PB&J.
17. Root Beer. Root beer with vanilla ice cream? Great. Root beer in and of itself? An OK beverage flavor.
16. Vanilla and/or Chocolate. Boooooring. Just get ice cream ffs.
15. Watermelon. The real deal’s better, seeds in teeth and all.
14. Strawberry. It’s OK. Never a first choice, though.
13. Kiwi-Strawberry. The kiwi edge sets this above strawberry solo.
12. Sour Patch Kids Red. Red isn’t even the best Sour Patch Kid flavor. Green is. Don’t @ me.
11. Cotton Candy. Kids seem to like it, so why stomp on the dreams of children?
10. Pina Colada/Strawberry Colada. Why bother differentiating?
9. Choc Choc Chip. Mint is what makes chocolate-chip water ice so divine. Anything else is just excessive.
8. Cantaloupe/Honeydew. Inspired by possibly the best fruits for summertime eating.
7. Chocolate Peanut Butter. Unique. And, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups totally rule.
6. Tropical Punch. It tastes like the feeling of laying on a beach in the Bahamas. The only thing that would be better than this? A Rum Runner flavored water ice.
5. Swedish Fish and/or Twizzlers. Gimmicky? Yes. Tasty? YAAAAAAS.
4. Margarita/Strawberry Margarita. See: Pina Colada entry.
3. Mango. If mango makes salsa better, mango makes water ice taste better, too. Heck, it also made Chris Kattan tolerable for a couple minutes there.
2. Key Lime. Anything that reminds you of the Florida Keys is just heavenly.
1. Cherry/Wild Black Cherry. Cherries make anything and everything better, and seeing someone tie one of their stems together solely with their tongue still serves as a constant reminder that the human body is a wondrous mechanism that should be rewarded with the most delicious flavor of water ice available dang near everywhere water ice is sold. Also, cherries are sweet, lemons are not, and people who prefer lemon water ice to cherry water ice are a pox on society.