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When the temperature tops 100 degrees, load the biggest ice chest you own into your car or onto a VIA bus and head on over to “El Paraiso” Original Ice Cream and Fruit Bars (also known as paletas) at 1934 Fredericksburg Road, next to the Woodlawn Theatre.

Founded in 1984, this family-owned business was the first paleta factory in San Antonio, according to Azucena Flores, daughter of Jose and Maria Flores, the owners. Maggie and Elizabeth, daughters, and Jose Jr., a son, also work at the factory and in the shop along with various uncles and cousins.

The Floreses produce more than 10,000 paletas a day. Strawberry is their number one seller, followed by lemon. Coconut and chocolate are tied for third, and vanilla/raisin comes in fourth. Other flavors include banana, mango, tamarind, pecan, pineapple, piña colada, horchata, cantaloupe, cookies and cream, watermelon, pickles, lucas (sweet and sour), cheesecake and coffee cappuccino.

The day my daughter and I filled up our cooler, we bought 25 paletas for $10. What a deal! “El Paraiso” provides dry ice to make sure your paletas survive the trip home. Coconut, chocolate, cookies and cream, coffee cappuccino, pecan and strawberry were our favorites. On the good news’ front, one paleta averages 140 calories, so you won’t blow your diet.

Maggie said that her father invented the pickles paleta after he saw kids, including herself, nibbling on giant sour pickles. That’s how he gets his ideas, by observing what people enjoy eating. The sisters also said that the “exotics,” like piña colada, cheesecake and coffee cappuccino sell very well.

The truth is that you don’t have to wait for the temperature to top 100 degrees to visit “El Paraiso” paletas. Ninety (or 80!) is good enough. Find out why other fans of paradise are loco for these delectable treats!

“El Paraiso” Original Ice Cream & Fruit Bars, located at 1934 Fredericksburg Road, is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to  9 p.m. Their phone number is (210) 737-8101.