Snow cones During The Amercian Industrial Revolution

Did you know?

In the 1850s the American Industrial Revolution made ice commercially available. Ice houses in New York would commonly sell ice to places like Florida. To transport the ice to Florida, the ice houses would send a wagon with a huge block of ice south. The route to Florida would pass right through Baltimore. In Baltimore, children would run up to the wagon and ask for a small scraping of ice. Before long, mothers started to make flavoring in anticipation of their child receiving some ice. The first flavor these mothers made was a current Baltimore favorite: egg custard. Egg custard was an easy flavor to make as all that was in it was eggs, vanilla and sugar.

Snow cones sold in theatres during the 1870’s

Did You Know?

Old Time Cane Sugar Snow Cone Syrup

By the 1870s, the snowball’s popularity had risen to the degree that in the warm summer months, theaters would sell snowballs to keep their patrons cool. Because of this association with the theater, snowballs were thought of as an upper-class commodity. Signs in theaters instructing patrons to finish their snowballs before coming in to the second act are the earliest tangible evidence of snowballs. In the theaters in Baltimore during the time hand shavers were used to shave the ice. Around the city, snowballs were served on newspaper, but in the classy theaters, butchers’ boats were used. In the 1890s, many people started to invent easier ways for snowballs to be made. In that decade, six patents for electric ice shavers were filed.

Would love for modern theaters to bring this back!

“Hard Times Sundae” Snow Cones In World War II & Great Depression

During the Great Depression and World War II, snowballs came to be available outside of Baltimore. As snowballs were so cheap, they were one of the few treats that people could afford. This inexpensiveness earned snowballs the nicknames “Hard Times Sundae” and “Penny Sundae”. People in need of a job would sell snowballs as it required little overhead. The treat became more popular during World War II, when all available ice cream was sent to soldiers, creating a need for an icy treat. This new found lack of competition helped snowballs became popular across the country

Snow Cone History From Origin To Present Day

A snow cone is a dessert item usually made of compacted shaved ice flavored with a brightly colored sugary syrup, usually fruit-flavored. Variations include the “stuffed” snow cone, which has a layer of soft-serve vanilla ice cream inside. Some are served with a spoon, and some are meant to be eaten with the hands like an ice cream cone.

Snow Cone History 
Samuel Bert of Dallas sold snow cones at the State Fair of Texas in 1919, and he invented a snow cone-making machine in 1920. Bert was a fixture at the State Fair, selling his snow cones there (and selling his machines world-wide) until his death in 1984.

In 1934, inventor Ernest Hansen patented the first known “ice block shaver” in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was inspired to create a more refined and hygienic version of the popular Italian ice sold from push-carts in the city. His wife Mary created many flavors of fresh syrups to flavor his finely shaved artificial “snow”. “Sno balls” have been popular in New Orleans ever since. Hansen continued work at the original Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in Uptown New Orleans on Tchoupitoulas Street through 2005, although his granddaughter, Ashley Hansen, has taken over much of the workload. Mr. Hansen died in late 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina and Mrs. Hansen died in March 2006.

There are differences between a New Orleans “Sno Ball” and a “Snow Cone.” While a Snow Cone consists of hard, crunchy, shaved ice and limited amounts of syrup, Sno Balls are made from a very fine powdered ice about the same consistency of actual snow and are drowned in syrup. It is custom to eat with a straw and a spoon.

Usually, the snow cones are sold at stadiums and coliseums, and by ice cream vans or by car peddlers at parks. In New Orleans, there are “sno ball stands” located in neighborhoods throughout the city.
Snow cones are crushed either by hand or with specialized ice-crushing machines.

Names and variations
In the United States, snow cones are produced mostly as a ball-shaped treat. In Baltimore and New Orleans, they are called snowballs instead of snow cones.

In Puerto Rico and many Puerto Rican neighborhoods, they are named “piragua”, because they are made in pyramid shapes and agua means water in Spanish. Most Puerto Rican snow cone vendors use street snow cone carts instead of fixed stands or kiosks. During the summer months in Puerto Rican neighborhoods, especially in New York and Philadelphia, “piragua” carts are often found on the streets and attract many customers. In Hawaii, snow cones are called “shave ice” and are sold in cone-shaped paper cups. “Rainbow”, a popular flavor, consists of three different colors of syrup chosen usually for their color rather than their taste compatibility. The ice is often shaved finer than with other snow cones such that the syrup colors are retained longer, providing for a better presentation. Commonly, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is first added to the bottom of the cup.

In Mexico and the adjacent Texas border region, snow cones are named raspados (or raspas for short), because the word raspar means “scrape”; hence the name raspado could be translated “scraped ice.”
In the Dominican Republic and many Dominican neighborhoods, snow cones are called “frío frío”. “Frío” is the word for “cold” and is thus named for the cold chills one gets while eating it.

The dessert ice kachang served in Malaysia and Singapore is another form of shaved ice. Ice kachang originally was served with red beans but now includes various fruits and other sweet toppings.

Snow cones are sometimes confused with “Italian ices” or “water ices”, but water-ice purists distinguish between the two: snow cones are generally flavored after production, at the point of sale, whereas water ices are flavored as the ice is made. In Japan they are known as Kakigori.

In Venezuela they are called Cepillados and are topped with condensed milk.

In India they are called ‘Juski’.

Most of the time a snow cone (or sno-cone) is a crunchier ice in which the flavoring sinks to the bottom. A snow ball means that the ice is fluffier and the flavoring somewhat soaks in. Furthermore, in most cases snow cones are made in advance. Snow balls are made in front of the waiting customer or customers. Snow Cone History is indead interesting.

American Psychological Association (APA):

Snow_cone. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved December 05, 2007, from website:

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

Snow_cone. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (accessed: December 05, 2007).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

“Snow_cone.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 05 Dec. 2007. <>.