Friday, June 12

10E2459: 'Ice' or 'Slush'

Summer is basically here in the North East. Plants and seeds are in. Stain the deck now or forget it. And if you want a cold treat from the spa store you get a slush. Right? That's what you call it - that cup of frozen water with some kind of flavor - that isn't quite frozen. Or are you an Italian ice man... ? Just don't touch the mixture pumped from demented juice containers at 7-11. Sure most of them have an ingredient list matching an Elf's 4 main food groups... but they are cold and refreshing as hell and a chance to chat with your local storekeeper as he scoops it out for you.

The favorite slush flavor of kids everywhere... blue!

But the naming convention is a question that has baffled the minds of urbanites and rurals alike. The flavors and traditions are fascinating and completely regional - this is another great use for my favorite reference material The Dictionary of Regional American English. Maybe you call is a "snow cone" in the Chesapeake Bay? Or "shave ice" if you are from Hawaii... I went round the horn and got some great stories back as below. Spoiler alert - in the Boston area SLUSH is king...

Image via

Joe - Made Right Here
In Delaware it is a snow cone. As a kid they used to give you a FREE snow cone for foul balls at the Felton little league park. Kids used to full on race and brawl over foul balls. I'm talking rugby scrum. You had to (GOT TO!) walk all the way up to the snack bar with the ball and trade it in for your favorite flavor. For that 200 +/- yards you were THE MAN. Head high, baseball proudly displayed. You had a free cone coming and you wanted everyone to know. They stopped that reward program some years ago (presumably due to kids getting hurt) but every time I see a ball over the backstop, there's a 10 year old in me that always wants to give chase. Grape please.

Shannon - The Library Effect
This NYer calls it slush (or slushie) when it is drinkable. An 'ice' when it is Italian, push pop or cup, and shaved ice when it is Dominican/Puerto Rican/Caribbean and vended from a cart.

Cathy - local rockstar librarian
Slush. Specifically (and only!) Richie's. My Philly friend just told me about 'water ice.' Eaten on its own, or mixed in layers w/ soft serve ice cream.

Matt - William Brown Project
Not slush unless I digress to a frozen margarita and of course that s*** happens... haha Slushy cocktails all the way.

Kristen - The Lady Project
In Rhode Island it's all about Del's Lemonade. The sign that summer has begun in Providence, is the Del's carts popping up on the street. Made with real lemons, you know it's the real thing with the bits of lemon in the cup and the proper way to consume Del's is never with a spoon, you have to drink it and then chew the lemon bits. Starts out a bit too frozen, but after a few minutes in your cup, the melting has reached the perfect drinking consistency. And yes, a splash of citrus vodka is often a critical part of the experience...
 Ok - that looks damn good...
Hawaii, on the other hand, is shave ice (never shaved, always shave). A solid block of ice that rotates while the blade shaves off ice into a cup, to then be covered with your choice of syrup. Some touristy areas, to our horror, now use ice crushing machines, which makes a terrible snow cone. Shave ice should melt on your tongue. I like mine with some mac nut ice cream on the bottom for a little surprise.
 Yeah she takes great food pictures. 

 Guiseppe - An Affordable Wardrobe
The short answer is Richie's Slush made in nearby Everett, MA. So disappointed when they switched to using the words "Italian Ice"on the cups two years ago. [Readers - G wrote a long piece on slush a few years ago that also touches on - not gentrification of his town but let's say a recent 'interaction' with transplants and misplaced priorities... worth a close read].

Mike - Repeat Press
Slush. [Ok then! Sidenote if you are local and want to hear Mike Dacey speak about his letterpress studio and running the Fringe space next week, tickets are here].

 Max - Basil Hayden's
SnoBall if you're going to SnoWizard in New Orleans. Sno-Blitz if you go to Hansen's in New Orleans. The snow cone was effectively invented if not popularized in New Orleans.

Growing up, we'd go to this place called Hogoboom's in Webster Groves [near St. Louis, MO -ed.], and I'd get the Silver Fox. Little did I know, Ronnie Sciortino, featured in the story above, is the owner of the company that invented my favorite flavor. We called them snow cones. Worder Ice [for water ice as we learned from Cathy -ed], as it's pronounced in Philly, is most famously produced by Fred's or Polish.