There’s nothing like eating a snowball on a hot summer day. These ice cold, sweet, and delicious treats are a refreshing way to beat the Louisiana heat.
Snowballs (also known as “snoballs” or “sno-balls”) are a traditional Louisiana summer treat made from shaved ice with flavored syrup poured on top. The location of where snowballs were created is debated. Many insist that the snowball was created in New Orleans in the 1930s, while others insist that Baltimore, Maryland, was their place of origin. Snowballs have grown to become a wildly popular tradition in Louisiana regardless of where they were first created.
NOT a Snow Cone
We need to make one thing clear–Louisiana snowballs are not the same as what is known as “snow cones” in the rest of the country.
Snow cones consist of coarse, crunchy ice, while snowballs are made from fine, fluffy, shaved ice that’s much easier to eat and much more enjoyable.
Snowballs had to be made from big blocks of ice before home refrigerators were common and household appliances and freezers were easily portable. Snowball vendors in New Orleans would work from pushcarts and hand-shave ice from the blocks. After filling a paper cone with shaved ice, they would pour one of the original syrup flavors on top—strawberry, pineapple, or spearmint.
Snowballs Go High Tech
A big leap forward came late in the 1930s when two New Orleans snowball pioneers, George Ortolano and Ernest Hansen, independently invented electric ice shaving machines. It didn’t take long for the snowball machines to become available commercially, and the snowball craze to take off.
Hansen and Ortolano’s legacies continue even today. The family business started by Hansen in New Orleans became the brick-and-mortar snowball shop, Hansen’s Sno-Biz, and is still in operation today. Ortolano’s family still sells an updated version of his snowball machine, the SnoWizard.
Snowballs Throughout Louisiana
The invention of the snowball machine helped the treat become popular throughout all of south Louisiana. Snowball stands popped up everywhere from Baton Rouge to Lake Charles, and in dozens of small towns in between. Today, you can find snowball stands throughout all of Louisiana and even into neighboring states.
So Many Flavors
Snowball flavors have advanced dramatically from the original basics of strawberry, pineapple, and spearmint. The first new flavors were still basic fruit flavors like cherry, grape, orange, lemon, lime, coconut, banana, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, peach, mango, and watermelon.
Flavors have become much more unique and adventurous over the years. Below is a list of some of the many flavors that snowballs now feature. Although it’s certainly not comprehensive, it covers a whole lot of interesting options that are sure to appeal to everyone’s taste buds!
Mix-ins and Add-ons
Today’s snowballs often come with options for mix-ins and add-ons. You can get a snowball stuffed with cheesecake pieces, ice cream, candy, or drizzled with chocolate sauce, condensed milk, caramel, and more.
You can really let your creativity shine when concocting your perfect flavor and topping combinations. The loaded strawberry cheesecake snowball, which includes a full slice of cheesecake, strawberries, and condensed milk piled on top, is one example of this. Or you can order the downright wacky dill pickle snowball, a snowball flavored with pickle juice and sometimes topped with pickles.
A snowball truly is a treat that caters to any palette.
Snowballs have become a wonderful part of Louisiana’s culture. Just about everyone who grew up in Louisiana has experienced the wonderful treats known as snowballs.
Let us know what your favorite snowball flavor is in the comments!
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