Rhode Island’s Icy Summer Treat

You may have tried Sno-Cones and Shave Ice, but until you’ve been to Lil’ Rhody in the summer, you haven’t had a Del’s.

Del’s origin story

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Image: Del’s Frozen Lemonade Facebook page

Del’s started as a frozen lemonade stand in Cranston, Rhode Island in 1948 by Angelo DeLucia. But, the business can be traced to Naples, Italy. There, Angelo’s grandfather stored winter snow in caves under straw. When the local lemons ripened, he combined the snow, sugar, and lemon juice to make the earliest version of Del’s Frozen Lemonade.

Today, Angelo’s son Bruce and granddaughter Stephanie run the business, There are dozens of Del’s storefront locations in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts, not to mention all the Del’s trucks parked at seemingly every beach and park during the summer.


Photo: Brent Petersen

Originally, Del’s came in one flavor, lemon. Now, you can get Del’s in watermelon, cherry, blood orange, and several other flavors, but most people still order lemon.

What makes Del’s special is the texture. Unlike Sno-Cones, which have large, crunchy ice crystals, Del’s has small ice crystals which makes the frozen lemonade smoother. And, Del’s doesn’t pour lemon syrup over the ice crystals. Instead, the lemon and sugar is mixed with the ice for a more uniform product.

How to eat Del’s

Rhode Islanders never use a straw when they have a Del’s. Instead, they almost bite a little off the top with their lips. Then, they carefully squeeze the sides of the cup, pushing a little more Del’s to the top. As the hot summer temps melt the frozen lemonade, the last bit is sipped from the cup. Use a straw and you’ll immediately be outed as a tourist.

Del’s cocktail

My favorite way to enjoy a Del’s is with a shot of alcohol. Any light colored liquor like gin will work. I’ve also seen people put white wine in their Del’s. Or, you could keep the lemon theme going with a little Limoncello. But, the spirit of choice is vodka.

To make this cocktail properly, you’ll need two cups. Pour the vodka into the bottom of an empty cup. Then, taking care not to splash or spill, slide half the Del’s from the other cup on top of the vodka.

Now, pour a shot of vodka on top of the remaining Del’s in the other cup. Viola! Two servings of Del’s cocktails.

But, you’re not done yet. To mix the cocktails, you can swirl them in the cup. But, real pros use their index finger. Again, using a tool like a straw for this job risks ridicule.

Author: Brent