Snow Cones

Snow Cones

Few things refresh on a hot summer day like a pile of pulverized ice drenched in flavored syrupy goodness. Available in a colorful variety of flavors, snow cones, or sno-cones if you prefer, have been pleasing overheated people for almost a century, and in all corners of the world.

One must go pretty far back in history to find the origins of the snow cone, all the way to the Roman Empire, where a common practice involved hauling snow from the mountains into the city, where it was then covered in syrup and eaten. Due to the considerable labor involved, this was a snack reserved for the wealthy.

The modern Americanized version of the snow cone, costing only pennies to produce, is said to have been introduced at the 1919 Texas State Fair thanks to a man named Samuel Bert. His ingenious snow cone machine allowed ice to be crushed without having to shave it by hand, making the process much more efficient and cost-effective.

The machines were soon found crushing out frozen treats at beaches, fairs, amusement parks, and anywhere else overheated families tend to congregate. Years later, kids were able to own their very own toy sno-cone machines and churn out these delicacies for their friends and family.

While this type of snow cone might be the version of which most people are familiar, there are plenty of variations that exist all over the world – and even within the United States. Go to New Orleans and you are likely to see a version called the sno-ball. Instead of merely crushing the ice, it is further ground into the consistency of snow, allowing more of the flavorings to be absorbed into the ice rather than all just running to the bottom of the cup. The Puerto Rican version, a piragua is made into the shape of a pyramid.

In Hawaii, these treats are known as shaved ice and are often made with three flavorings, giving them a rainbow appearance. Some places even throw a dollop of soft-serve vanilla ice cream under the ice. Venezuelans top their cones with condensed milk, as do the Japanese who use ice that has been flavored before being frozen for their version, called kakigori. Some versions of the Japanese snow cones even include red beans, as do versions from Malaysia and Singapore.

Whatever your preference, there is surely a mound of frozen and flavorful ice somewhere nearby with your name on it. In a world filled with cultural differences, at least there is one thing that is universally understood – wherever the merciless sun beats down upon people, nothing soothes a parched throat quite as exquisitely as a cupful of flavored ice.

Was a snow cone a go-to treat for you when summer rolled in? Did you get them from the ice cream man, an outdoor stand, or simply make your own? We’d love to hear all of your snow cone memories in our comments section below.

One Response to “Snow Cones”

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  1. Jane says:

    You need to do a separate post on New Orleans “Snow Balls”. The best ever, they put “Snow Cones” to shame. Just FYI….the Big Easy always does everything better!!

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