Information For Snow Ball & Shaved Ice Fans & Vendors

Snow Ball Flavors
Where to find Shaved Ice, Snowballs & SnoCones
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About Snow Ball Machines

Since the time of the Roman Empire, people have flavored snow. In fact, snow was the world's first frozen dessert.

This site is an homage to the simple, cold and refreshing dessert known as either shaved ice, sno-balls, snow balls, sno-cones, snow cones or hawaiian ice. Essentially, each name refers to a refreshment made by shaving or cutting ice and applying flavoring, with the names "sno-balls" or "snow balls" designating the confection made of ice shaved so finely that it resembles the consistency of real, fluffy snow.

On this site, you'll find a history explaining the genesis of snowball making machines as well as a list of snow ball flavors, a directory of concession stands selling these refreshments, a "how to" that describes how you can sell sno-balls and photos of snoball stands submitted by visitors to this site. Enjoy!

History Of Flavored Snowballs & The Machines That Make Them

Ernest Hansen behind the counter at his Sno-Bliz Shop; Summer, 2003.

In the 19th Century, a wood plane was used to shave ice into a consistency resembling snow. Shortly thereafter, an inventor used the shaving principle behind the wood plane to create a tool which shaved ice into fluffy snow. Before long, ice shavers made by numerous manufacturers were available in the late eighteen hundreds. Street vendors in many cities sold these treats by the dozens on hot summer days.

In 1934, a machinist in New Orleans named Ernest Hansen invented and patented the first motorized ice block shaver. The Hansen motorized shaver produced shaved ice similar to that made with hand shavers but far more quickly and with a more consistent texture. The machine was welcomed by corner ice shaver vendors for its reliability (in fact, Mr Hansen is still making sno-balls with the very same 70+ year old machine). Other manufacturers saw a budding opportunity and soon followed.

The original Hansen ice shaving machine.
(Still in use to this day)

Why New Orleanians spell "snow balls" without the "w"
Most of the retail shaved ice outlets in New Orleans spell the name of their product "sno-balls" without the "w" as a matter of long standing tradition. Eating machine-shaved, flavored ice became popular in New Orleans during the Great Depression that followed the stock market crash of 1929. At the time, a serving of shaved ice cost all of 2 pennies on the dollar. On a hot and humid summer day, it was a treat that even a family of modest means could buy for the kids. Many first generation immigrants from Italy, Germany and Ireland were living in New Orleans at that time; rural poverty drove poor blacks into the city from the countryside as well. Given that the "w" is not pronounced in the word "snow", along with the practical reading skills of many customers and the desire to identify this ice treat apart from ice shaved by hand, this new product took on a unique spelling.

There is a trend for new markets outside Louisiana to use the snowball spelling with the w. This spelling further separates the snowball from the chipped ice of a sno-cone or Hawaiian Ice. Vendors in those markets feel that snow spelled with the w creates greater product curiosity with potential customers.

Today, the state-of-the-art ice block shaver for fluffy, New Orleans style sno-balls is made by Southern Snow Manufacturing. The Southern Snow Machine design incorporates over 60 years of research and technology and offers many features not found in any other ice shaving system.

Snow Ball Flavors
Where to find Shaved Ice, Snowballs & SnoCones
Monthly Photo