NEPA Scene Staff

Rita’s holds 25th annual free Italian ice giveaway on March 20, the first day of spring

Rita’s holds 25th 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 25th anniversary of the beloved First Day of Spring Free Italian Ice Giveaway on Monday, March 20 and, in its honor, welcomes back another springtime favorite, Peeps Italian Ice. As part of the annual tradition, guests can enjoy a free Italian ice in a limited edition First Day of Spring cup at all locations across the country during regular operating hours.

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

“At Rita’s, we believe it’s important to celebrate the everyday moments that make life special, from good grades on tests to job promotions, hitting the home run in the little league game to a perfect pirouette in a ballet recital,” said Mike Lorelli, CEO of Rita’s Italian Ice.

“And while we believe all those tiny moments deserve sweet celebrations here at Rita’s, the First Day of Spring celebration holds a special place in the hearts of Rita’s treat teams everywhere.”

Phyllis Levy, SVP and CMO at Rita’s Italian Ice, adds, “As we’ve marked the change in seasons from winter to spring by giving away free Italian ice for the past 25 years, we’ve given away millions of cups of Italian ice to guests all across the country over the course of our annual springtime celebration, and we view that as just the beginning.”

Not only will Rita’s fans get to enjoy a free Italian ice this year, but Peeps Italian Ice will also be available at select stores nationwide on the First Day of Spring and at all Rita’s locations for a limited time only, beginning on March 27. This mouth-watering combination, which has the same great taste as the iconic springtime marshmallow candy, will mark the start of a tasty treat season to come, which will include Twizzlers Italian Ice and Hawaiian Punch Italian Ice. As of March 1, Rita’s will also offer a new Stuffed Blendini, which allows guests to “stuff” hot fudge, hot caramel, strawberry sauce, or peanut butter in the center of the treat for a new twist on the classic.

Guests are encouraged to help spread “Ice, Custard and Happiness” this first day of spring by snapping a photo and sharing it on social media using #RitasFirstDayOfSpring to enter into the Rita’s First Day of Spring Photo Contest. All guests who submit a photo between March 20 and Friday, March 24 will be entered for a chance to win one of 25 prizes, including a chance at the grand prize of free Italian ice for a year. Fans will be able to vote for the winners in an online poll between Wednesday, March 29 and Wednesday, April 5. The grand prize winner will be publicly announced on Rita’s social media sites on Friday, April 7. For more information on how to enter or to view the official rules, visit

Rita’s Italian Ice opened its doors in Bensalem, Pennsylvania in 1984 and has been dedicated to spreading “Ice, Custard and Happiness” ever since. Now with more than 600 locations worldwide, guests around the world visit Rita’s to celebrate their everyday moments with freshly made cool treats in a fun-filled atmosphere. Known for its famous Italian ice, made daily featuring real fruit and award-winning frozen custard, Rita’s serves a taste of happiness with each delicious treat.

Just Born Quality Confections is a third-generation family-owned company that has grown into the ninth largest candy company in the United States. Just Born is the maker of some of America’s most beloved and iconic brands, including Peeps, Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. In 1923, founder Sam Born opened a small candy-making and retail store in Brooklyn, New York, where he marketed the freshness of his daily-made candy with a sign that declared “Just Born.” Together with Born’s brothers-in-law, Irv and Jack Shaffer, the company thrived in spite of the economic depression of the 1930s and, in 1932, moved its operations to Bethlehem, which is still home to their iconic candy brands. All Just Born candies are proudly made in the U.S.

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.