Chewing ice

by Patty Templeton

Love itI am a connoisseur of ice chewing. By far, my favorite is pearl ice. It’s that slighty-smaller-than-a-dime, round ice. It’s the kinda stuff that old-school hot-dog stands serve in their soda pops. You know flaked ice, otherwise known as slushie ice? That’s my second favorite.

Big-ass ice cubes can suck it. They hurt my teeth. They are also too loud to bite into. I prefer dainty ice chewing, thank you very much.

There is a disorder called pagophagia. It’s when you chew ice like an addict. There are online communities dedicated to finding the perfect fast food ice (like There are people who eat entire bags of grocery store-bought ice in a day.

I don’t do any of that. I’m not compulsive about it. I just enjoy chewing soft pearls of ice. Yes, I know I’m ruining my teeth. No, I’m not going to stop.

— Patty TempletonHate itClay, cigarettes, paper, dirt, laundry soap. These are all known in the nutrition field as pica (not the lovable rodent or cherished unit of measurement) – when people eat non-food items with no nutritional value, usually because of nutrient deficiencies, most commonly seen in the odd, baby-inside cravings of pregnant people. You know what else is on that list? Ice. That’s right, it’s technically a non-food item, so I’m not alone in my cringe-inducing disdain at even the idea of eating frozen water.

Just the thought of crunching on ice makes my teeth hurt, a practice that combines the worst aspects of an ice-cream brain freeze and chomping porous rocks.

There are many reasons this activity is hate-worthy. Ice eating can be a sign of anemia – iron deficiency in particular – though it’s not clear scientifically why this causes people to add ice to their eating habits. It’s also not too good for your teeth, for the same reasons pebbles should be avoided as food, unless they’re of the Fruity and Cocoa varieties.

In the end, the fact that I squirm at the thought of chewing on ice just makes me feel normal and well-adjusted.

— David Holub


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