|Posted by Lilly on April 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM|
Photo Credit: Famous Italian Ices
After visiting two other Italian Ice wholesalers in my area and not having much success, it was by sheer luck that I found a third ice manufacturer nearby, this time in Philadelphia. I stumbled on them while searching online for pushcarts. What they didn't do well in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), I hoped they made up for in quality Italian Ice. So, I set my GPS and drove approximately 35 minutes to Famous Italian Ices.
Well, truly the third time must be a charm, because I felt this company held a lot of promise for becoming my ice wholesaler. Famous, it turned out, is entering its 46th year in business. A great sign. It started out, like so many others, with one truck and some ice. But it was when they began making their own ice that their business found its niche.
I found the building, an old, original factory, from which they also operate a store selling ice from a small window on the block corner. It was all very interesting to me, a newcomer to this entire Italian Ice world. I spoke with Neil and Mark (yet another family business) about buying ice, their delivery options, prices and such. But soon they asked about me, and the conversation turned to a free business advice clinic, for which I am always grateful. This is one business where people absolutely love to share information and ideas, what's worked, and how to succeed quickly by imparting their own trial and error lessons.
Famous offers a fair amount of flavors, including the usual suspects, lemon, cherry, mango and chocolate. But I was impressed to see they also offered novelty and heritage flavors like Passion Fruit, Island Breeze, Parcha, Rum and Tamarind. And to top it off there are a few mystery flavors, Beetle Juice and Cry Baby, which piqued my interest.
If that weren't enough to entice me, they are running a season-long special, buy 5 buckets at one time and get the 6th one free! As a vendor, that is like handing me a $100 bill. But, for all the offerings, I wouldn't commit until I sampled their ice and tasted if that elusive genuine quality was present or absent. They willingly handed me a styrofoam cup and asked me what I wanted to try. Since I still believe a great lemon ice marks the winners from the losers, I, of course, asked for that, followed by two other of their bestsellers, cherry and mango.
One taste and I knew. THIS was my supplier. The flavor was fresh and wonderfully authentic. Not sugary sweet, not bland. The lemon was divine, and the mango tasted so much like mango, I almost couldn't eat it since I actually despise mango. What truer test? There was no aftertaste and the texture, while a titch icier than I wanted (more water ice consistency), was very good. It was clear this ice was made using quality ingredients.
I left with a huge smile on my face and many thanks to the guys. But the best part of my visit was when I asked them about scooping the ice and what temperature it should be served. They told me 20-25 degrees was ideal. I objected, saying that every other vendor serves colder, recommending 10-15. Neil then told me to scoop some of their ice to see how easy it was to do. And that was when I scooped my inaugural scoop of ice, a memory I will always cherish. That day, not only did I end my search for an ice wholesaler, but it was the day I became an Italian Ice vendor.