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Taste

At last, Rita’s Water Ice shows up

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Not as watery as a Slurpee, with a smoother consistency than a snow cone.

The Details

Rita’s Ice Custard Happiness
693 N. Stephanie St., 405-8192.
Daily, noon-10 p.m.

Back in Philly, we call it water ice. Or more accurately, “wooder ice.” I’ve spent six years describing this foreign concoction to Las Vegans—not as watery as a Slurpee, smoother consistency than a snow cone, icier than a sorbet and so on. Then one day in June, I didn’t have to describe it anymore. There was a franchise of Rita’s Water Ice—called Rita’s Ice Custard Happiness to eliminate any confusion about what they were selling—in my very own Henderson. It’s the first one in the state, and the westernmost one in the United States.

The closest comparison to what owners Irving and Robin Dobbs make fresh every morning is probably Italian ice, and there are 15 or so varieties at any given time. The vanilla and chocolate of water ice flavors have always been cherry and lemon, but those are just part of the rotation here. (It took me several visits before cherry appeared, and I only recently saw lemon.) Instead, you get flavors like Sour Patch Kids, root beer float and piña colada, as well as strawberry, mango and watermelon. There are also variations on the theme: gelati (with custard on top), misto (blended with custard) and blendini (water ice meets a DQ Blizzard). Those are all violations in my book. The only thing that should ever come with water ice is a Philly soft pretzel.

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