One of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had was for the popular Italian ice chain, Rita’s. While the management at my particular location left a lot to be desired (leading to my eventual quitting), the thrill of making one of my favorite desserts ever every morning was really fun. It was surprisingly relaxing, once I became familiar with the recipes and how to operate the machinery.

As horrid as my departure from that job was, it could never destroy the love I have for refreshing Italian ice on a summer’s day. I’ve continued to frequent Rita’s simply because I’ve never encountered other italian ice that could compare. In fact, last summer my friends and I visited every Rita’s in our county. After that journey, and the intimate knowledge of a restaurant you gain from working there, I would consider myself an expert on Rita’s.

I made myself a ranking of all the flavors I tried last summer, and if that trip taught me anything, it was just how much ice Rita’s has. Making a full ranking would be truly impossible, at the very least because I’m simply convinced some flavors advertised just don’t exist. Raspberry Lemonade? I’ve never actually seen that in person. Peanut Butter and Jelly? I don’t even remember that in the recipe book. So I’m going to give my objectively correct, undeniably true top AND bottom five ice flavors. You’re welcome.

Bottom 5:

5. Swedish Fish

Immediately, this is going to get me in hot water. Swedish Fish is probably one of the most popular flavors, and to have it in very last place on my list will ruffle some feathers. At the end of the day, though, I have to stick to my guns, and I don’t tend to like super sugary things. As someone who has made this flavor a hundred times, I know this has one of the highest sugar contents, and you can certainly tell by tasting it. I don’t like Swedish Fish as a candy, and I certainly don’t like it as ice.

4. Blueberry

Fun Rita’s fact: Blueberry is actually the syrup you use when making my 3rd least favorite ice flavor, Blue Raspberry. I remember asking my boss at the time if blueberry ice on its own was even a thing, as I had never seen it in person. But when visiting all the Rita’s in the county, I finally encountered it. And let me just say, I hadn’t been missing much. I remember it being a very bland flavor, not tasting much of anything at all, besides just faint blue.

3. Blue Raspberry

This is unfortunately another case of my obvious bias. The singular difference between the blue raspberry and blueberry flavors is the sugar content, and you can really tell. The taste is significantly more blue, but gets rid of a lot of the charm that I think blue raspberry has in general. Blue raspberry has the potential to be a good flavor when it leans into the raspberry more, but Rita’s completely loses that layer.

2. Grape

Now this is a pretty common disliked flavor, for good reason! Grape can be a really hard flavor to get right artificially, and this is a perfect example of how it can be done wrong. The taste is frankly just bland and a little sour, leading to a pretty unenjoyable ice experience.

1. Blueberry Cheesecake

Based off this list, I understand how one could think I dislike blueberries. That actually isn’t the case at all, I love blueberries! That’s probably why I’m so particular about them as a flavor, though. I love Rita’s cream ices, as you’ll see in my top 5, so I was really expecting to like this. But with the basicness of the blueberry syrup, this came out tasting very disjointed.

Top 5:

5. Coconut Cream

While I worked at Rita’s, this was my favorite flavor. I love any ice that has some type of fresh mix-in, and the coconut cream in this recipe does a lot. It also helps the ice stay together, as the mixture separating over the course of a long, hot day can definitely be an issue. It's a very solid summer vibe, beach-y and refreshing.

4. Strawberry Colada

Strawberry Colada is catnip to me. Piña colada has been a steady favorite flavor of mine for years, so adding strawberry to it is literally genius. You would never really guess how great strawberry goes with traditionally tropical flavors, but it somehow works. It rounds out flavors that otherwise get a bit lost with the sugar content of the ice, and depending on the location of Rita’s you frequent, you may be lucky enough to get some pieces of actual strawberries chopped up in there.

3. Marshmallow Peanut Butter

Even after years of this being my go-to, it remains one of my favorite flavors at Rita’s to this day. Marshmallow peanut butter is one of the most genius combinations on this planet, and this ice understands exactly why. Between the actual peanut butter mixed into it and the inclusion of the vastly under-utilized marshmallow syrup, I would eat this flavor every day if I could.

2. Fudge Brownie

Fudge Brownie is an encapsulation of all my favorite things a Rita’s flavor can have. It's a thicker cream ice that also has delicious fudge brownie pieces sprinkled throughout, and I can’t get enough of it. Throughout my day of visiting all the Rita’s in my county, my friends and I tried to buy at least one item at each location. Due to this, by the end of the night we were fully experiencing sugar crashes and couldn’t stomach any sugar. However, I remember this was one of the last flavors we tried, and the fact that I liked something so rich so late in this experiment is a testament to how yummy fudge brownie is.

1. Root Beer

I truly can not tell you how this ended up at the top of my list. I stand by it, but I never would have guessed it for myself, personally. Everything else in my top five tracks for the typical flavor profiles I enjoy, but Root Beer is just so basic. It's pretty sweet, not a cream ice, and certainly has nothing mixed in. So why has it beat every other one out? Because I truly believe, somehow, Rita’s has mastered root beer as a flavoring. It's almost more appealing than the taste of an actual root beer, and can immediately quench even the greatest of thirsts. It's a staple for a reason.