Rate My Ice!

posted in: Sicky, Tips 22
This ice has potential. But only if it melts down. Photo: Achim Schleuning via Wikipedia.
This ice has potential. But only if it melts down. Photo: Achim Schleuning via Wikipedia.


A couple years ago, I wrote about how I don’t freak out if I leave out a pot of soup overnight, how I’ll just shrug and stick it in the fridge and make sure I heat it up extra hot next time. I made sure to mention that there are strict limits to this “eh, whatever” kitchen rule and to never be afraid to come over for dinner, but a lot of you still thought I was weird.

This post is way weirder. But I’m going to write it because walking home from the library, I laughed out loud to myself just thinking about it — which was also weird, of course, but fun for the guys who hang out in the park by the library who saw me laughing to myself.

The precipitous decline in my hemogoblins over the past few months has, as I’ve mentioned, led to a steep increase in my ice consumption. As a number of you have so astutely pointed out,  this ice-eating is a symptom called “pica.” Pica is “a tendency or craving to eat substances other than normal food, such as clay, plaster, or ashes, occurring during childhood or pregnancy or as a symptom of disease.”

There are many things to be grateful for: Not craving a glass of ashes or plaster is at the top of my list right now.

Ah, but frozen water counts as non-normal food and as my picamarades know, when you’ve got anemia and pica is upon you, nothing tastes as good as a big cup of really good ice. And you’d better believe that there’s good ice and less-good ice. There’s bad ice (e.g., cubes too large, over-frozen, etc.) There’s acceptable ice. There’s even ideal ice. As an almost compulsive ice-eater, I have become an ice connoisseur and I would like to now review some of the ice that I have sampled lately.

Though this is silly, I assure you: I devote a good deal of time these days to ice procurement, consumption, and evaluation. It’s unsettling to me how excited I am to write these ice reviews. But here we go.

Note: Ice evaluated on a scale of 1-5 on texture, flavor, melting rate, and ease of obtaining. All locations are in the Loop or South Loop of Chicago. In the case of chain stores, the management cannot guarantee quality/consistency. 

My Condo: 4.5
My ice maker is broken (oh, the irony) but I have four ice trays that are awesome if I only fill them up halfway. If I only fill them halfway, when I pull a tray out, the ice gets melty in the trays and it’s really chewy. Picking ice cubes out of the tray like that feels sort of like eating a box of chocolates.

Hilton Hotel Cafe: 3.7
I sometimes take a shortcut through the Hilton if it’s cold or rainy and the cafe near the lobby has a self-serve soda machine: total score. I’ve taken a big plastic cup over there on several occasions for the semi-crushed, fresh-tasting ice, but I can’t get cocky. The lady behind the counter gave me the stink-eye the other day.

Pret-a-Manger, Michigan and Monroe: 4.7
This big-city chain cafe has the best ice ever. It’s thin. It’s crispy. It’s crunchy. The cups are big. I try to scam two full cups of ice from the folks behind the counter when I buy a can of Diet Coke but sometimes they say they have to charge me for a large beverage if I want one. If I’m feelin’ flush, I’ll do it. (Q: Has anyone ever planned a heist of an ice machine? Call me.)

Starbucks (Any location): 3.1
Starbucks ice is okay in a pinch, but it’s too hard. And you often get big bars of ice that haven’t separated into cubes. Do you know what I mean? I hate that. My hemogoblins hate it when that happens.

That One Falafel Place on Wabash: 4.1
An upset! This is almost as good as the crushed, almost snow cone ice that you get at a Sonic. (Now there’s some great ice — alas, no Sonics in the Loop.) Anyway, I like this place’s ice better than the shwarma.

7-Eleven on my block: 4.0
The guys who work there are very sweet and rarely charge me for a refill. They may be concerned.

22 Responses

  1. Ruth
    | Reply

    Sonic crushed ice.

  2. Kathi Montoya
    | Reply

    I love ice, and its’ right up there as a separte food group for me. BUT…there are two kinds of ice that each have their separate glories. In Arizona, we have “Crystal Ice” made by a local provider, that is pristine, shimmery, big blocks of ever-so-slowly meting ice. This is the one that Is ideal for carting around in my stainless steel double-wall insulated cup (I love you, Gold Peak Iced tea). The other is the chewy, crunchity ice from (again local) our “Circle K” mini-stores (like 7-11)…melts rapidly, and is the perfect consumable. So, yes, pica has always been part of my life, but fortuantely, no medical reason…or at least that I know of! I hope you feel well soon; you are a wonderful writer, quilter, and social commentator.

  3. Janet
    | Reply

    I do agree that Sonic has excellent ice. But, I get my daily fix from my corner Chevron convenience store. It has the best chewable texture.

  4. Ann Otlewski
    | Reply

    This post is a little weird, but very entertaining! Just FYI though, ice machines are seldom cleaned! When I go to a restaurant I frequently say “no ice” for that reason (that and the lemon slice that I don’t know who touched and was the knife clean??”)
    I miss seeing your quilting show on TV and I wish you good health!

  5. Kerry Leach
    | Reply

    Ours was from the ice maker – just my handy go-to. It was just wayyy too handy. For drinks I like the crushed version, but for chomping it had to be the big ones. The crunchier the better. Perhaps it’s just our hard water – chewy ice sounds great!

    My dad’s mother apparently hit the lumps of coal when she was pregnant. How revolting! For me with my son it was rhubarb fool and rum and raisin chocolate. My daughter made me eat pickles – I ate loads of gherkins/dill pickles? But the ice was a crazy thing and I never associated it with an illness!

  6. Heather Briwn
    | Reply

    My sister is an ice eater too. She bought a counter top ice maker at Walmart. The ice is the right size and crunches very well. We live in Canada but you should still be able to get one in the US. One Brita pitcher makes three batches. It is automatic. Might be a great purchases.

  7. Pam
    | Reply

    I am completely spoiled (and crazy anemic). We have an ice machine in my office that makes absolutely perfect ice. I may crunch my way through three or more large glasses full every day.

  8. Barbara
    | Reply

    Oh Mary, I wish you didn’t have to report on the ice, as that would mean you wouldn’t have a reason to crave it. I hope you will be feeling better and craving Dove dark chocolate silky smooth Promises. I have 2 everyday.

  9. Kay Jones
    | Reply

    OMG. I am sitting in my living room with a glass of ice with my diet coke. It is the way I start every day. Trips to the ice maker in the fridge are frequent. When out, I known all the places in town that have the best ice. The local hamburger place. , next to the sewing center is the best “ice place” in town. Can you imagine , my two favorite places right next to each other!!!!! I eat some much ice that my two dogs are addicted to the ice too. My friends scream at the crushing sounds that I make. They do not realize that I cannot live without ice. Mary, we will have to meet one day and chew ice as we share all of our quilting stories. Much love to my favorite ice chewing friend.

  10. Kathryn DarnellAVV2
    | Reply

    Praying for an uptick in your hemoglobin with renewed energy and FABULOUS ice on every streetcorner. Continue to laugh out loud, no one thinks you’re crazy…they just want to know the joke.!

  11. Joan Huehnerhoff
    | Reply

    Soncis crushed ice. My friend would give it a 10, on a scale of 1 to 5

  12. Dayna Williamson
    | Reply

    crushed ice from our icemaker is the best and I can get as little or a lot as I want at a time. Just walk by and stick my glass under!

  13. Betty Harris
    | Reply

    absolutely agree. Have had a couple bouts with anemia the past year, . It took me several weeks to realize i was in the throws of PICA (i’m a nurse) but not understand how some addicts feel. My ice crusher on my home freezer couldn’t keep up with my cravings some day.

  14. Michele
    | Reply

    I hope you feel better soon and GET YOUR ICE MAKER FIXED !!!!!M

  15. Lori Minch
    | Reply

    Here in the South, the drive-in chain Sonic has pellet ice. It is the absolute best. People often buy bags of it for parties. Hope your iron level is on the uptick soon.

  16. Rhonda Mossner
    | Reply

    All of this ice talk has me pricing new fridge/freezer combos with the dispensers in the front! Had to leave my last one in Indy with house.Ug!
    I find McDonald’s to have great ice!

  17. Andrea S.
    | Reply

    I’m sure you get recommendations all the time health wise, but this is one to check out. If you have troubles with iron levels, and being low, check out an herbal supplement called “yellow dock”. While it has no iron in it, it allows your body to absorb more of the iron you consume in your diet. For most people, absorbing the iron already present is the main problem. In both my pregnancies, I became anemic, it was my midwifes advice to try yellow dock before iron supplements. I retested 2 weeks later, and my levels were back to normal. I took one yellow dock capsule in morning with my breakfast. I did not change anything with my diet, I ate cream of wheat in morning, tried to get one good serving of leafy greens a day, and cooked everything in a cast iron. i am always suprised at the amount of Doctors that don’t know about this. I work for a Natropathic Doctor, and this was news to him.

  18. diana
    | Reply

    As an ice cruncher myself, I have found nothing compares to hospital ice~the kind with tiny, reconstituted ice particles. Ice satisfaction and not hard on the teeth!

  19. Betsy
    | Reply

    I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so I know exactly what it feels like to have such a hard time at, well…life! Cheers to my friends with an invisible illness. Except when your skin gets pale and translucent. That’s not the kind of invisible I meant! Eep! Hope the transfusions have you feeling better!

  20. CMF
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing your experience, with pica, Mary. I have always enjoyed adding ice cubes to my water, and had an appreciation for a good ice cube – just the right size and shape, I also learned about pica during my training to become a dietitian, but I had no idea how all consuming the craving for ice is until I developed pica. Almost a year ago, I was diagnosed with multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli, and the treatment caused chronic, severe hemorrhaging. I had severe anemia – low hemoglobin and a nearly non-existent ferritin level, and I craved ice from morning to night. I will never forget the day the ice machine in the food lab at work broke down. My co-workers quickly realized how desperately I needed ice. It was not unusual to eat 6-8 cups of ice throughout the day. I had to leave work, and drive to a local convenience store that sells ice and fountain drinks. I returned to work with two large styrofoam cups full of ice chips, and then had to stop an buy a bag of ice on the way home. It was not until I stopped the anticoagulant, had a final blood transfusion and three iron infusions, that my fixation on ice stopped. I still enjoy ice, but it is not something I wake up or go to sleep thinking about. Hopefully, the iron infusion kicks in quickly.

    A friend recently told me about some who had anemia, secondary to Chrohn’s Disease. This person eventually told his friend that he was going to the basement of his work, at lunch time, where renovations were underway. At first he just stood there enjoying the smell of the concrete. Eventually, he started to eat small pieces of the concrete. As soon as he told my friend she recognized this as a symptom of anemia, and she recommended he go for a CBC. Sure enough, he had anemia. Thank goodness I didn’t crave something other than ice!

  21. Cheryl M
    | Reply

    I craved ice for a long time, and spent a lot of money buying fountain sodas from certain convenience stores because their ice was perfect. Chomped on it most ofthe day.
    Then, I had open heart surgery to fix a finally-discovered heart defect, and poof — no more desire to chomp on ice. OBTW, I was horribly iron deficient when I went into the hospital, as well. Who knew? Well, I do now.

  22. […] at the eleventh hour? That was great. Less great is that my dentist, Dr. Tahbaz, confirmed that my ice-eating was probably the main culprit for my busted […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *