Every summer we gather a bunch of our friends hop in our Sprinter and take a night time trip to Corona Ices to the Lemon Ice King! 🍋🍧👑
We sprinkle a few Corona Ice nights throughout our summer like a yearly pilgrimage. We’ve been doing this with the kids for years and I’ve been going for as long as I remember, my parents also growing up going.
Our first stop is always the Pizza Place right across the street for a quick laid back informal dinner.🍕
There are several booths in the pizzeria and then a few more outside in their covered glass area. The bathroom is an adventure lol.
Then we head over for the main event. For those of you who have never heard of the Lemon Ice King let me give you some background knowledge.📰
Here’s a great summary from the Gothamist “Vinnie Barbaccia was a teenager working the window at the Lemon Ice King of Corona back in 1964. At the time, founder Peter Benfaremo—who opened up shop in the ’50s—was feverishly working to expand the storefront in time for the World’s Fair, which was about to take place in nearby Flushing Meadows Corona Park. In the end, due to its close proximity to the park, the massive fair proved to be a watershed moment for the Lemon Ice King of Corona in becoming known throughout the city.
Now over 50 years later, Barbaccia co-owns the Lemon Ice King along with Michael Zampino, and not much else has changed in the interim. All of the signage remains the same (except for the prices) as does the secret recipe, which is so closely guarded that Gothamist was forbidden access to the production area. They did reveal one of their secret ingredients, however: New York City’s winning tap water goes in to all of their flavors… and they’ve got over three dozen.
There is the lemon one, of course, which is everything you’d want it be, but there’s also a large selection of quirkier options… like peanut butter. On paper this one seems unappetizing, but in reality it may just be the best of all (the duo confirmed it’s one of the most popular).
Others include blueberry, mint chocolate chip, rum raisin, sour apple, pineapple, coconut, vanilla… and so on. The paper cups filled ice range in price depending on size, starting at $1.50.
Along with the ices, the neighborhood itself seems frozen in time as well. In nearby William F. Moore Park, you can still join crowds of locals in watching fiercely competitive games of bocce that take place nearly every night during the summer, and which have been going on for decades. The area remains largely untouched by the gentrification that has swept through so many of the city’s neighborhoods, perhaps owing to its relative isolation from the subway (the Lemon Ice King is about a 15-minute walk from the 7 train).
The Lemon Ice King Of Corona is located at 52-02 108th Street, less than a mile walk from the Unisphere.”
And another article from the New York Times” Mr. Benfaremo, the King in the store’s name, died in 2008. But Mr. Irushalmi still drives from Bayside to 108th Street in Corona to take part in what is arguably the defining summer ritual for anyone with even a remote connection to Central Queens: A smiling customer exchanges a few words, and a couple of dollars, with a polite teenager working a worn stainless steel counter, and a paper cup overflowing with smooth, perfectly sweet Italian ice is proffered with the care accorded a sacramental wafer. I’m Classic rock drifts onto the sidewalk. White-haired Jewish ladies, knee-high Latino children, big-bellied Italian men, hand-holding teenagers — they’re all in line. It’s nostalgia, on ice, in 42 flavors…Indeed, when Vinnie Barbaccia and his business partner, Michael Zampino, bought the store 20 years ago from Mr. Benfaremo, a distant relative of Mr. Barbaccia’s, the Ice King had something of a Seinfeldian “Soup Nazi” aura: no napkins, no utensils, no blending of flavors. And certainly no free tastings.”
Ok back to us. Every year the kids line up at the stainless counter, on tippy toes trying to see over the counter and get a good look at the flavor they are deciding to order. The colorful sign listing the 40+ flavors is the same sign I’ve been reading since I’m a little girl.
I never waver always picking peanut butter, but always happy to lick someone else’s 🍋.
The rules are strict.
One flavor, only ices, no bathrooms, 1 napkin. Ok fine they are a little more lenient with napkins, they actually place them on the counter, in my olden days they DIDNT EVEN GIVE OUT NAPKINS! 😳😳😳 Once everyone is satisfied with their ices and we pay, we take our obligatory pic in front of the counter and then head across the street for the second half of the night for some bocce ball!
The kids love watching the old Italian men compete in a very competitive and sometimes tense game of bocce.
They love when the angry losing guy tosses their red or green ball super fast and knocks the little white balline out of the way to restart the match.
My favorite guy is the old white haired Italian with the raspy Italian accent! 👴🏼
Its just some good ole fashion fun! Memories people memories!
They love running around the tiny neighborhood park climbing on the benches and swinging around the flag pole. Or pretending to play a game of chess.
My favorite story of a trip to Corona Ices is when I took a very very good friend of mine and her kids one June night. I guess there was a lack of communication on what to expect on my part. Well she showed up in her Long Islands Saturday nights finest: white jeans, fancy top, jewelry, makeup, nice bag and accessories. 👠💄💼👗THIS IS NOT CORONA ICES.🗽🍧✖️ Expect an Uber casual flip flop night, the kind where your heels get dirty from wearing sandals and your hands and legs are sticky from ices dripping down after a lick gone wrong or a 90 degree night. 👅✖️💦⬇️ If your look for a fancy and upscale event then stay at home your missing the point. This is as New York City melting pot as your gonna get and it’s wonderful so come with an open mind…
Friday night when we went we even had an impromptu astronomy lesson by.🌕 Who let each kid take a chance at viewing the harvest moon from her telescope.🔭 The kids shot zillions of questions at her and begged her to come to their school! It was a nice bonus treat!🌝
Those who have memories of coming here growing up GET the scene and the significance of this place and the ritual. To newcomers they may feel like fish out of water. Right behind the park is the very famous Parkside restaurant, which I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never been to yet even as a native Queens girl. 😳
I never hear a bad review, the food is delicious and the atmosphere is great…Zagat calls it “4.5/5 – “Local color” abounds at this “Corona landmark” beloved for its “old-school” Italian cooking and “energetic” following, from “politicians” to “goodfellas”.”
Anyway, check it out before the weather gets chilly, just plan a few hours to hit the trifecta in the triangle: pizza, ices and bocce!