Courtesy of Mike Sanders
Fishin' LOUISIANA Style
of Mike Sanders
Graphics by Greg Nathaus (Germany)
(*Please note this is not a real Louisiana magazine cover.*)
Photo courtesy of Mike Sanders
Graphics by Greg Nathaus (Germany)
(*Please note this is not a real Louisiana
Louisiana Cookin' Magazine - August 2001
by Scott R. Simmons
Sno-Balls: The Crescent City's Favorite Summer Treat
By: Scott R. Simmons
Coach Garner was the man who introduced me to sno-cones. It
was at Greenacres Junior High School, late spring, 1980. Coach Garner was a PE
coach and he also oversaw the concession stand hidden in a
breezeway next to
the gym. He recruited me and a few of my friends to work the
stand in exchange for snacks. The school did not want to interfere
students eating the wholesome food prepared in the cafeteria,
so it only
opened the concession stand "full of junk food"
for the last fifteen minutes
of recess each day. When the metal window rolled up, hordes
of my fellow
students in seventh and eighth grade lined up to buy oatmeal
with marshmallow cream, cheese crackers, waxed paper cups
fountain Coca-Cola and ice, and sno-cones.
Coach Garner set up the snow machine on one side of the storage
that doubled as the concession stand. My job was making the
snow. I would
chop off a piece from a block of ice and load the chunk into
the chute. Then
I flipped a switch, the blades would whirl, and the snow would
fall. Using a
metal scoop, I would shovel a mound of snow, pack it into
a paper cone,
shape a ball on top, and hand it to my friend Kathy who poured
or grape-flavored sugar syrup over the top.
Fifty cents changed hands and a sno-cone was delivered across
counter. The sno-cone was pure refreshment on those hot, nearly
when the temperature was in the 90s . Everyone bought one.
Even Coach Garner
would have one every now and then, chomping fruity ice, smiling,
his bald head while making sure that the concession stand
After junior high, I rarely saw sno-cones again except at
fair. Until I moved to New Orleans.
In most of Louisiana the sno-cone is a summer treat, but in
the sno-ball is a summer tradition. Sno-cones are called "sno-balls"
Orleans, and stands that sell them to lines of waiting customers
practically every neighborhood.
Claude Black and his wife have owned and operated Williams
Sno-Balls for twenty-two years. From a small corner building
in the middle
of a Carrollton neighborhood, a bevy of workers serve some
of the most
popular sno-balls in New Orleans. This is how you do it. Walk
in one of the
two doors that open onto Plum Street (its easy to tell which
one is the
entrance because there is always a line) and enter a narrow
barely holds four or five people at one time. Right inside
the door, tell
the person behind the counter what size you want. One worker
shaves ice into
the container and shapes it. Then the sno-ball is handed down
the line and
the next server asks you to pick one of seventy-two flavors,
over the top, adds condensed milk if you want the special
treatment, and sets the sno-ball on the counter. Pay the cashier,
the other door, sit on the bench outside the stand, and enjoy
the flavor of
Black doesn't know how many sno-balls he sells at the stand
but he buys 5,000 plastic spoons each week. When Williams
first opened, the
shop sold sno-balls in two sizes his crew serve cups and pails
in a variety of sizes
from super small to super-duper extra large. The pail is a
Chinese food takeout container
with flaps bent back and filled way beyond capacity with snow
syrup. Whatever the customer's preference, the cups and the pails seem to hold the sno-ball equally well.
When asked about the difference between a sno-ball and a sno-cone,
says there is no comparison.
The difference between the two is the texture of the ice.
Sno-cones are made with coarsely shaved ice that
still has the
texture of pieces of ice sno that is shaved off the end of
a block of ice. Shaving the block of ice creates a texture
so smooth and soft that it actually has the feel of powdery
snow in the mouth.
When Williams Plum Street first opened sixty years ago, the
made by a hand shaver. The manual hand shaver operated much
automatic counterpart that is used today, but the blades were
turned with a
hand crank. The ice was shaved and then scooped onto a plate
with an ice
cream scoop, like a sno-ball, and then drenched in flavored
Nowadays, Williams Plum Street Sno-Balls uses a SnoWizard
manufactured in New Orleans. In 1937, George Ortolano invented
three-bladed ice shaver that became SnoWizard. The shaver
was made to
accommodate a 12.5 pound block of ice that was originally
cut by ice sellers
to fit into ice boxes (the forerunner of refrigerators). Then
the block was
shaved by the blades, snow was made, and juicy flavor was
poured on top.
SnoWizard used to sell most of their machines locally. Now,
majority of the machines are sold to out-of-town and out-of-the-country
entrepreneurs. Understandably, the Caribbean has become a
hot spot for
sno-balls, and the islanders love their sno-balls doused with
like mango, kiwi, and passion fruit.
Allegiance to sno-ball stands in New Orleans ultimately comes
flavors and texture of the ice. Though Williams Plum Street
flavors and a huge following, Hansen's Sno-Bliz has die-hard
fans who will
accept no other sno-ball.
It's hard not to be a fan of Hansen's. The place oozes New
atmosphere. The unassuming white building on a corner with
"Hansen's Sno-Bliz" sign is easy to miss, but any
Hansen's follower can find
it without the sign. A corner door opens to a large room with
a counter on
one side, walls overflowing with photographs, articles, and
sixty-two years in the business, and the whole place is cooled
windows and an electric fan.
Mrs. Hansen, who is credited with starting the sno-ball stand
in New Orleans, started hers when most women didn't work outside
Mr. Hansen made the machine that shaved the ice for a sno-bliz,
Hansen opened the stand to serve the refreshing, sugary treat.
began to come on the hot summer days of New Orleans, and they
come, looking for the real sno-ball.
Behind the counter, one of the Hansen grandchildren may be
waiting to take orders. There is no rush here, just a steady
people cooling their heels and their palates on Tchoupitoulas
the customer chooses the flavor from numerous boards where
the flavors are
listed and the size of the container, including a plastic
to the wall behind the counter, the Hansens make the sno-ball.
They fill the
container half full with snow, then pour the chosen flavoring
half. Next, they send the sno-ball back to the ice shaver
where they add
another mound of snow and, finally, a second round of flavor
milk. The result is irresistible method that soaks every particle
of snow with
Lots of people love the sno-balls of New Orleans and go to
to make sure they can get them. Recently in Hansen's, a couple
Mississippi ordered six large buckets in a variety of flavors.
sno-ball was ready, they wrapped it and packed it in an ice
preparation for the trip back to Mississippi where they will
sno-balls in a freezer.
It may be a little far to tote sno-balls back to Bossier City,
Garner would have loved a Hansen's sno-ball. I think he would
have had a
hard time picking the flavor. Our puny little sno-cones at
junior high with
two flavors to choose from couldn't compare to a bucket filled
raspberry syrup, and condensed milk, served with a spoon and
a straw. I can
see the toothy grin on his face and the hand rubbing his head
at the first
bite of a snowball from Hansen's. He would be in love with
Contributing Editor Scott R. Simmons grew up in Bossier City,
but now lives
in New Orleans, where he practices law.
Louisiana Cookin' Volume 4, Number 6, Page 10, August 2001
Copyright 2001, Louisiana Cookin', Kriedt Enterprises, Ltd.
Courtesy of Louisiana
HERE for the history of the Sno-Ball.
Here for MORE Lagnaippe!