In 1971, Ed Irving and Bob Greenberg, two New York natives, found themselves facing a hot Tucson summer. Their old standby, a refreshing cup of Italian Ice, was no where to be found. So, they took matters into their own hands.
And thus, the lemon eegee was born. Irving and Greenberg sold it at schools and sporting events out of a refurbished vending truck, until teachers and coaches asked them to leave. But the people kept seeking them out, and kept asking for more.
First it was a bag of chips to accompany an eegee, then an Italian grinder to complement the bag of chips. The vending truck turned into the back room of a house, which turned into a retail store, which is now represented by 26 locations.
The local chain was sold to the O’Connor family in 2006, and the menu has certainly grown, but the values remain the same. Here are seven reasons eegee’s is still a Tucson treasure after 35 years.
1. Only Found in Tucson
Okay, that one location in Casa Grande doesn’t count. And, neither do the eegee’s available at various locations outside of Tucson. There are not many things you can say are only found here in Tucson, but we sure are glad eegee’s is one of them.
Is there anything better than arriving in town and being greeted by a big cup of cold, fruity goodness? Especially when it’s accompanied by a side of…
2. Fries With Ranch
Because normal ranch dressing just isn’t enough, they mix their own ranch recipe with fresh buttermilk to ensure a thick, creamy dressing that sticks to more than just your fries.
Fifty tons of crispy, crinkle-cut french fries are served each year. No word on how many of those are smothered in ranch and bacon bits.
3. 26 Locations
Wherever you find yourself in Tucson, chances are an eegee’s is nearby. Never fear enduring a long drive to fix your fast food craving. And no, it’s not franchised. Each location is still part of the family-owned operation.
4. Flavor of the Month
Standard flavors aside, with Rodeo Root Beer in February, Orange Creamsicle with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in July, and Jungle Juice in September it’s hard to opt for the basic lemon, strawberry, or piña colada. Regardless of the time of year, eegee’s is there with a satisfying and complementary flavor of the month.
5. Community Involvement
More than 8,000 loaves of day-old bread go to the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen and more than 900 pounds of meat and cheese goes to the Salvation Army each month. Their community recycling program, Recycling for People First! is nationally-acclaimed. They are also ready and willing to donate food and drinks for various community causes and events, including the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, ALS Association and the American Cancer Society.
Oh, and they’ve given over $2 million to local charities through their coupon card program. But it doesn’t end there. Not only does the restaurant chain donate goods and aim for sustainability, they also provide job training and employment for mentally-disabled individuals.
6. The Party Van
With a name like that, and a literal van covered in larger-than-life decals, what could go wrong?
The Party Van will serve up lemon, strawberry, pina colada and the flavor of the month to one hundred of your favorite party guests for three hours.
When it comes to cookies, bigger is always better. And eegee’s delivers, whether you prefer the classic chocolate chip or fudge brownie style.
The eatery even gifted Tucson with a cookie of the month to look forward to, featuring specials like Pumpkin Spice and Pecan Cinnamon Roll.
For more information, visit eegees.com.