Happy first day of spring! If your revelry takes you to a Rita’s Italian Ice stand today, you won’t be alone. Last year, the chain’s first-day-of-spring-means-free-water-ice promotion brought customers out in droves: all told, Rita’s reportedly gave away 1.2 million cups of free water ice.
If you’re worried about the extra calories (and how to log ’em in My Fitness Pal later), here’s what you need to know. The promo applies to the 12-ounce “regular” size cups (although I’m sure if you ask nicely and say please, the server will give you a kids 7.5-ouncer instead). For sheer calories’ sake, your best bets, of course, are the sugar-free options, which will run you between 130 and 240 cals for 12 ounces, depending on the flavor. Sugar-free ices are sweetened with Splenda and acesulfame-potassium, also known as Ace-K, according to ritasice.com. Their carb count ranges between 43 and 80 grams, but they contain zero grams of sugar. How? Rita’s explains on its website:
The majority of the carbohydrates in these flavors come from ingredients such as sugar alcohols and maltodextrin, which is derived from corn. Sugar alcohol and maltrodextrin contribute calories and carbohydrates, but no sugar. These ingredients are important in maintaining the consistency and stability of our products during freezing.
If you want to go with a full-sugar water ice, those will set you back between 230 and 460 calories. They contain between 58 and 96 grams of sugar. And the cream ices (mmmm, mint chocolate chip), run you 230 to 540 calories, with between 44 and 113 grams of sugar.
Since Rita’s doesn’t distinguish between flavors in its nutrition facts, I would use the average if you’re counting cals, just to be safe. So if you get a 12-ounce full-sugar option, log it as 345 calories. For a cream ice, count it as 385. And for a sugar-free water ice, call it at 185.
For full nutritional information, check out the PDF here. Rita’s will be handing out free water ice at all of its locations from noon to 9 p.m. today.