Hello, August! Nothing shouts "summer" like a cup of water ice - especially Grovestyle peach Water Ice from Pop’s Homemade Italian Ice in South Philly. It’s one of the city’s most iconic foods from one of the city's most iconic water ice stands. Not to mention, it's the perfect treat for a hot, humid day.
But first, for the uninitiated, what is water ice? It’s a frozen treat that tastes like a mash-up between a snow cone and a slushy. It’s unclear who invented it, but it’s widely believed that it arrived in Philadelphia with the wave of Italian immigrants in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Filippo “Pop” Italiano, who is considered the granddaddy of water ice in Philly, started selling it from a pushcart in 1932. One hot summer day, much like today, even before Pop could get the cart out of his garage, a line started to form down his driveway. That’s when he realized that he didn’t have to keep pushing the heavy cart around his South Philadelphia neighborhood and he started selling the water ice from his home.
Today, six of Pop’s grandchildren run Pop’s in a newer building at the same location. In addition to peach, which is full of bits of fresh fruit, the cousins make the traditional flavors -- lemon, cherry, and chocolate.
And some good news, it’s open! Because of the nature of the product, it is impractical to order in advance. Just line up, minding the socially-distant markers that make the line move faster than it looks. Then, find a shady spot across the street in Marconi Park. But hurry! Grovestyle Peach will only be around for a few more weeks. And you can’t lick it. (Actually, you can)!
Tip: Vegans rejoice -- water ice is dairy-free.
by Irene Levy Baker, author, 100 Things To Do In Philadelphia and Unique Eats & Eateries of Philadelphia. Both books are full of tips. For even more tips, visit www.100ThingsToDoInPhiladelphia.com. Planning a staycation? Go to the website for signed copies of books. For free shipping, use promo code TheCityPulse.
Click here for more blog postings by Irene Levy Baker including two posts with tips for how to help restaurants survive and a look at Philadelphia-themed masks.