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  History of Italian Water Ice

Italian ice (known in the Philadelphia area as water ice) is a frozen dessert made from either concentrated syrup flavoring or fruit purees. It is not shaved ice that is flavored, rather, it is made by the same process by which ice cream is made: mixing ingredients and pouring them into a batch freezer. Common flavors include cherry, lemon, and blue raspberry, though flavors such as coconut, blueberry, orange, and chocolate, among others, are available and range in popularity depending on the region.

For thousands of years people saved ice to satisfy their desire for cool drinks. The earliest icehouses existed in Mesopotamia, beside the Euphrates River, about 4,000 years ago. The rich used the ice in these puts to cool their wines. Alexander the Great dug pits and filled them with snow so that his army could have cool wine in the summer. Roman emperors had ice brought from the mountains, and the kings of Egypt had snow shipped to them from Lebanon...Easterners, especially in the Turkish Empire, frequently consumed iced fruit drinks, and the people of Greece sold snow in the markets of Athens from as early as the fifth century BC. Today's sherberts and wine coolers likely originated with the wine-flavored ices consumed by early peoples, and today's snow cones likely originated with the ices made long ago form real snow mixed with honey and fruit.