Was there really any question that the ultimate, absolute-most-Philadelphia of all summer treats is water ice?
There was, actually. Philly has a long, strong association with hand-dipped ice cream. It wasn’t invented here, exactly, but the country’s oldest existing ice cream maker is still scooping in Reading Terminal Market. Bassetts looked like a strong contender in our opening field of 32, and made it to the second round, but was knocked out by historically accurate throwback parlor Franklin Fountain, which went on to the Final Four.
Custard also has a strong foothold in the region, though perhaps it’s more of a “down the shore” thing than identifiably “Philly.” Philly Flavors repped custard through the first four rounds, but then couldn’t stand up to the other type of treat the city has become known for: Gelato.
Capogiro has been called the best in the world for the smooth, creamy treat, and the five locations also have a fervent following here at home. The support was enough to carry it all the way through to the finals, where it faced the winner of the water ice quadrant, Siddiq’s Water Ice.
Finalists Siddiq’s and Capogiro have a lot in common. Both gelato and water ice originated in Italy, and both of these Philadelphia producers use fresh fruit and eschew artificial flavors or colors.
But in the end, Siddiq’s crushed it. Why?
Two main reasons. One, the stuff is absolutely killer. During our live Final Four tasting at Liberty Place, people who had never before sampled it couldn’t stop talking about it, raving about the bits of fresh fruit that were mixed with the ice and the strong fruit flavor that wasn’t too sweet.
Second, Siddiq Moore and his crew worked their customer base hard.
Every student who stopped at the cart that’s long been set up on the corner of 13th and Montgomery by Temple, got a friendly request along with their purchase: “Vote for us on Billy Penn!” Every person that cooled off with a cup from the West Philly stand at 60th and Irving (soon to be a storefront) was met with the same suggestion.
There were similar campaigns online. Even though the brand doesn’t yet have many followers — Moore only recently jumped into the social media game — the loyalty among them is strong, and word traveled fast. This started from the very first round; our recap noted that Siddiq’s was the surprise top vote-getter, and this held true through to the end (in the finals, it won by a huge margin).
So big congratulations to Siddiq’s Water Ice, Billy Penn’s Ultimate Philly Frozen Treats winner.
Pro tip: Get out there and try it.