My Visit to Famous Italian Ices

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.


Categories: Italian Ice Wholesalers, Getting Started

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Reply Abby's Ices
12:37 AM on June 6, 2013 
I just read your post, ironically, after I ordered 80 cans from Neil, sight (and taste) unseen. I had the same concerns you mention above and I'm very glad to read your feedback about their Ices. My cans will be here Friday morning and I can't wait to hit the ground running with his products. We chose to offer a few flavors of his ice cream too. Neil has been an invaluable resource for me as a newbie to the Italian Ice business. He was informative, patient, and tenacious about working through some of the challenges I had with taking delivery of the product and getting my shop up and running. Of course I'll know more after I actually dish a scoop and taste it for myself but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Neil and Famous based simply on my experience with them so far. Stand up guys.
Reply Lilly
7:48 AM on June 6, 2013 
Man, the pressure's on for me now, huh? Italian Ice is so variable for everyone. I just talked with a highschooler who worked an ice stand, and she absolutely raved about Via Veneto. She actually liked the smooth consistency (from all the corn syrup and stabilizers, etc.). I will wait patiently to hear your verdict, and especially the opinion of your NY partner! He must know good ice! But I have tried Famous' vanilla ice cream, and it's to die for, so I'm not holding my breath there! It's so rich and creamy, custard like, unexpectedly good. Be honest when you taste it all and share with us! Best of luck on Grand Opening!
Reply Debra Williams
1:27 AM on August 12, 2013 
Lilly, for me Rita's is the standard and I'm looking for an ice that's closest to it in taste and consistency. Did any of the Italian ice wholesalers who tried measure up?
Reply Lilly
12:49 PM on August 12, 2013 
Debra Williams says...
Lilly, for me Rita's is the standard and I'm looking for an ice that's closest to it in taste and consistency. Did any of the Italian ice wholesalers who tried measure up?

Hi, Debra. I haven't come across any water ice like Rita's. From the Rita's we get here (several stores around me), it's pretty watery. The ice from the three suppliers I've sampled are far more solid (better for selling outside on hot days). I wish I could help you out in that regard, but so far I haven't come across that consistency/taste. Ironically, I'll share that a lot of people who taste my ice (supplier: Famous) rave about how much more they like it than Rita's, and a lot of KIDS have said that Rita's is too sweet. It's very interesting and not at all what I expected to hear. You might want to do a taste test in your neck of the woods. If Rita's is your standard, but people in your area aren't familiar with Rita's, then you could go in another direction. But, like I said, I thought I might have a tough time satisfying my locals who I thought were extremely Rita's loyal. And that just hasn't turned out to be the case. Best of luck!
Reply Brian Watts
12:03 PM on February 26, 2014 
Neil and Mark are the best wholesaler you will ever want to do business with their ice is by far the best. their products ice& ice cream beat the big chains hands down .just ask anyone who taste it. thanks guys for all your hard work
Reply Debbie
7:43 PM on August 31, 2015 
can I buy this without being a business