NEPA Scene Staff

Rita’s holds annual free Italian ice giveaway on March 20, the first day of spring

Rita’s holds annual free Italian ice giveaway on March 20, the first day of spring
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From a press release:

Rita’s Italian Ice, the world’s largest Italian ice concept with more than 600 stores in 30 states and five countries, will celebrate the first day of spring with its 24th annual First Day of Spring Free Italian Ice Giveaway – known to many Rita’s guests as simply “FDOS” – and the return of its famous, award-winning frozen custard to stores nationwide. More than one million Rita’s customers from coast to coast will join in on the family-favorite tradition on Sunday, March 20 to snag their free Italian ice as a fun way to usher in the new season.

Store locations in Northeastern Pennsylvania include Scranton, Dunmore, Dickson City, Kingston, Mount Pocono, Hazleton, and Stroudsburg.

“Rita’s FDOS tradition is so incredibly unique in that it brings kids, grandparents, and everyone in between together and puts a smile on their faces year after year without fail,” said Jeff Moody, chief executive officer of Rita’s Italian Ice.

“If FDOS wasn’t sweet enough, this year there’s twice as much to celebrate, as our fans can again enjoy our famous frozen custard in all of our stores nationwide.”

As part of the springtime celebration, all customers who visit a Rita’s location on March 20 during operating hours will receive a free Italian ice in a limited-edition First Day of Spring cup. Guests are encouraged to snap a photo of their cool treat and share it on Instagram and Twitter using #RitasFirstDayOfSpring to enter into the Rita’s First Day of Spring Photo Contest. All guests who use the hashtag from March 20-March 25 will be entered to win free Rita’s Italian ice for a year. Three winners will be chosen by a panel of judges and will be announced on Rita’s social media channels on March 31. See the official rules at

Additionally, Rita’s will debut a new, redesigned Rita’s Rewards mobile app, whereby patrons can earn rewards by making purchases. All Rewards Members will receive a free “punch” on March 20 toward a free regular Italian ice, frozen custard, or gelati as part of the annual celebration. The Rita’s Ice Rewards app is available via the iTunes app store or the Google Play store.

For many Rita’s stores, FDOS will also mark the debut of new flavors. New this season are Jolly Rancher treats – two Jolly Rancher Italian ice flavors and a sweet and tangy crushed Jolly Rancher topping. Jolly Rancher Green Apple Italian ice and the crushed topping will be available beginning on March 21, followed by the debut of Jolly Rancher Watermelon Italian ice on April 4.

Earlier this year, Rita’s also introduced an extension to its signature Italian ice – all-natural Italian ice. The new product is made with simple, natural ingredients and comes in four flavors: pineapple, strawberry, orange, and banana.

Rita’s First Day of Spring fun facts:

  • 1992 marked Rita’s Italian Ice’s first-ever First Day of Spring Free Italian Ice Giveaway.
  • Rita’s will give away Italian ice to more people than the population of Vermont and Wyoming combined.
  • It is expected that more than 500,000 pounds of free Italian ice will be given out as part of the beloved annual celebration, which is heavier than the weight of the Statue of Liberty.
  • Rita’s Top 5 most popular Italian ice flavors are mango, cherry, cotton candy, Swedish Fish, and lemon.
  • Rita’s uses more than 300,000 pounds of mangos annually to create its No. 1 Italian ice flavor, mango.