Photo by Sara Roahen
It's hot out there, so why don't you take a moment to cool off by visiting our most recent oral history project, New Orleans Sno-Balls.
As you might expect to find in a subtropical city, New Orleans’ flavored ice tradition dates back to a time when vendors shaved the ice by hand and carried just a small selection of flavorings. “Tee Eva” Perry remembers choosing between just strawberry, spearmint, and pineapple syrups to flavor the coarse scraped ice at her neighborhood stand. Then, in the 1930s, two sno-ball pioneers—George Ortolano and Ernest Hansen—independently built the city’s first electric ice-shaving machines.
In spite of the sno-ball’s nostalgic appeal, flavor innovation is rampant. Listen to Claude and Donna Black talking about concocting Plum Street’s new king cake flavor. Learn about Steven Bel’s customers at Sal’s, who are stuffing orange dreamsicle sno-balls (a recent addition) with soft-serve ice cream. And meet Dylan Williams at Beaucoup Juice, who goes entirely new-school by flavoring his sno with minimally sweetened fresh-fruit juices.
To learn more about the Crescent City's favorite snowy treat, take a tour through New Orleans Sno-Balls.