What would summer be without the sweet, melty, colorful crushed ice treat known as the sno cone? This delicious treat is sure to keep you cool during the summer months
Sno Cone History
A man from Dallas named Samuel Bert sold shaved ice at the Texas State Fair in 1919. The next year, he invented the sno cone machine. Bert was a fixture at the State Fair for more than half a century, selling sno cones until his death in 1984. His sno cone machines can be found around the world to this day!
A New Orleans inventor patented the first ice block shaver in 1934. Inventor Ernest Hansen wanted to create a more refined (and hygienic) version of push-cart Italian ices sold in the city. Hansen’s wife Mary created fresh syrups to flavor Ernest’s finely shaved “snow”. The Hansens worked at their original Hansen’s Sno-Bliz location in New Orleans until their deaths in recent years. Granddaughter Ashley Hansen now runs the business.
Let’s make one thing clear: there’s a big difference between the New Orleans “snowball” and the sno cone. A snowball is made from shaved ice and uses much more syrup. You may need a straw or spoon to enjoy your snowball; not so with a sno cone. The ice is grated, hard, and crunchy in a sno cone, and only moderate amounts of flavoring are used.
Sno Cones around the World
You can find a sno cone just about anywhere in the world!
- In Cuba (and many Cuban neighborhoods), they are known as granizados — from the Spanish word for hail stones. Anise is a traditional flavoring for granizados.
- In Puerto Rico (and many Puerto Rican neighborhoods), they are called piragua — thanks to the pyramid shape.
- Look for shave ice in Hawaii — though this is more like the New Orleans snowball than your crunchy sno cone.
- In Mexico, southern Texas, and Colombia, sno cones are called raspado — raspar is Spanish for scrape. You’ll find these frosty treats in traditional fruity flavors and classic Mexican flavors like leche (milk with cinnamon) cucumber, and guava.
- In the Dominican Republic, they are called frio frio — named for the chills you get while eating your sno cone.
- Indian shaved ice desserts are called juski.
Popular variations on the traditional sno cone include the “stuffed” sno cone — the usual crushed ice and syrup with a layer of soft-serve vanilla ice cream in the middle. Some makers top their icy treats with condensed milk, chocolate syrup, or even marshmallow sauce for a creamy confection. Ice cream trucks still sell pre-packaged sno cones with a gumball at the bottom of the cone.
Making Your Own Sno Cones
You don’t have to save your sno cones for a special occasion. It’s quick and easy to make sno cones at home!
Start with crushed ice in a cup. Use an ice crusher or a blender… or place ice cubes in a plastic back and whack them with a spoon until they’re the right consistency. When it comes to flavoring, the sky’s the limit! Add a few tablespoons of your favorite juice or soda. If you’re feeling adventurous, mix in some chopped fresh fruit.