The Scoop: John's Water Ice

Owner Anthony Cardullo Jr., with cherry and chocolate.
Owner Anthony Cardullo Jr., with cherry and chocolate.
Posted: August 22, 2014

The deal: John Cardullo got in on the South Philly act of turning fruit, sugar and water into dessert in 1945. He ran his business from a boxy brick building built for that very purpose. John's is still there, under the direction of Anthony Cardullo Jr., John's grandson. There's another John's in Pennsauken, run by Anthony Jr.'s cousin, and a third that recently opened on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City.

Where: 701 Christian St., 215-925-6955, johnswaterice.com.

Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-10 p.m. Sunday. "After Labor Day, we start shaving an hour off, here and there," Cardullo said. Closes Sept. 22. Reopens April 1, weather permitting.

Inside: What inside? Step up to counter. Order. Get it and go. Eat.

Prices: Water ice: small, $1.50; medium, $2; large/pint, $2.75; quart, $4.50.

Flavors: Cherry (maraschino), lemon, chocolate, pineapple, with weekend specials of strawberry, banana, mango or cantaloupe.

How to eat it: Comes in a cup. Said Cardullo, "South Philly natives don't touch water ice with a spoon. But you can." If you must scoop, do it with an order of pretzel sticks, five for a quarter.

How to say it: "Wudder ice."

Owner's favorite: Lemon and cherry water ice, combined.

How to make it fancy: Order as gelati, one layer of water ice, one layer of Kemps ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, butter pecan, birthday cake, peanut-butter swirl, cookies and cream, or, our favorite, creamy raspberry chocolate chip), and another layer of water ice. We had chocolate water ice with vanilla ice cream. Wasn't classic gelato. But was interesting: a mild, chillier version of vanilla fudge. (Gelati by the cup: $3.25; pint: $4.50; quart: $8.)

Who's been there: Jimmy Rollins, Mario Batali, Mark Sanchez and President Obama. POTUS had the lemon.

Why go now: To stock up for winter. "Some people store it all winter," Cardullo said. "They put it in the microwave to loosen it up - about 10 seconds."


A summertime journey across the Philadelphia region in search of great ice cream and other frozen treats. Reported this week by the Daily News' Lauren McCutcheon. Have a fave we should try? Email mccutch@phillynews.com.

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