While it certainly doesn’t feel like it right now in Bucks County, PA, spring begins this week. Along with Wednesday, March 20 being the first day of spring, it is also the annual Free Ice Giveaway at Rita’s Italian Ice. This year, each guest that visits between noon and 9 p.m. will receive a free regular ice of their choice in a limited edition cup. With over 50 flavors of smooth, cold and delicious ices available, everyone is bound to have a favorite.
As the nation’s largest Italian ice concept with over 625 stores in 19 states, Rita’s keeps coming up with new ideas to make each year better than the last. This year, Rita’s is challenging their fans to photograph their “first taste of spring” with a Twitter and Instagram contest. From 12 p.m. on March 20 to midnight on March 22, fans are invited to post photos taken at Rita’s to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ritasfirstdayofspring. One grand prize winner will be awarded free ice for a year in the form of 52 vouchers for a free regular ice. To participate, you must follow Rita’s on Twitter or Instagram. Click here for complete rules.
In keeping with the theme of tech-tied promotions, Rita’s also has a new Rita’s Ice App with a Rita’s Rewards Loyalty Program for fans with smart phones. Download the Rita’s Ice App and be sure to show your virtual reward card every time you visit. Earn a free regular ice on your 8th visit. Click here for more details and to download the app.
Since the treats are still the main focus at Rita’s, there will of course be new flavors and frozen treats available this year. New to the line up is the option to create a sundae with your favorite custard flavor. Not just chocolate and vanilla now, select locations will also offer coffee, strawberry and orange cream custard. Pick a flavor to enjoy in a cup or waffle bowl with 20 toppings to choose from including sprinkles, hot fudge, caramel, peanut butter sauce and more. And with new flavors such as Marshmallow Peanut Butter Cream Ice, there’s always something different on the menu.
For those in the Philadelphia and Bucks County areas, the success of Rita’s is especially sweet because this is where it all began. In the summer of 1984, a former Philadelphia firefighter by the name of Bob Tumolo decided to open a small Italian ice business. Named after his wife, Rita, Bob opened the first store in Bensalem, PA. Bob and his mother created fresh Italian ice (commonly referred to as “water ice” in the Philadelphia area) daily, adding chunks of fresh fruit, and being sure to throw away all uneaten ice after 36 hours. These time-tested recipes (along with many new flavors and variations) and commitment to freshness are the qualities that made them famous…and they are still followed today.
While Rita’s has now branched out considerably, the nostalgic feeling that Rita’s evokes is probably most unique to the Philadelphia region. Many young adults today have strong memories of piling into the family car with siblings and neighbors on warm summer nights – eating this chilly after-dinner treat while sitting on blankets spread on the hood of the car or chasing lighting bugs with fruit-stained lips. For many of this same generation, Rita’s was even their first high school job. With flexible hours, plenty of other young people, and a fun, relaxed atmosphere, Rita’s was (and still is) a perfect job for those making that first transition from the lazy childhood summer days into the adventurous and slightly more responsible teenage years.
While each season brings new flavors and different things to try, Rita’s still holds on to that family-friendly feeling that many people look forward to every spring. Each year’s opening day is a symbol of warm days, simple pleasures and a new season of memories. Start your season with a free ice from Rita’s on March 20 and come back all spring and summer long.
If you’re in the Bensalem area, here are just a few of the locations to visit this year:
Bensalem, PA 19020
Andalusia, PA 19020
Feasterville, PA 19053
While hours can vary from store to store, the minimum hours of operation for Rita’s locations from now through the Thursday before Memorial Day are:
Sunday – Thursday: 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.
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