Growing up in Philadelphia, the opening of John’s Water Ice (701 Christian St.) was a rite of spring — a treat you had to have simply because it was available. But as summer wore on, it became a necessity and one of the best ways to cool off on a hot summer afternoon. The one-story corner bunker has been scooping out lemon, cherry, chocolate and pineapple water ice since 1945, and we wonder — do the scoopers ever get that cherry red out of their hands?


Where John’s has always been a promoter of keeping it simple, Pop’s (1337 Oregon Ave.) is known for their array of choices. The Broad and Oregon location takes South Philadelphia’s already suspect parking practices to the absurd as cars triple — and yes, even quadruple — park in order to line up for an icy treat.


Our favorite combination remains root beer and vanilla, an even cooler version of a root beer float.


When P.Y.T. opened last year in the Piazza at Schmidt’s, we thought the “adult milkshakes” were a clever novelty — but that’s before we downed a couple. For a Questlove-approved cool down, try his signature “adult” shake: It’s Frangelico liqueur, Baileys Irish Cream and vanilla ice cream.

– Arthur Etchells is a local food blogger. Read more at

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