Things are heating up here in the Big Easy, and we’ve got a long, hot summer ahead of us. While we can’t all be fans of heat and humidity, everyone can agree on one thing: nothing takes the edge off a hot summer day better than a classic, New Orleans snowball! With snowball stands across the city hawking as many different flavor combinations as there are beads in the catch basins when it comes to snowballs, there’s something for everyone.
In fact, there are so many different decisions to make when it comes to snowballs that Nola newcomers might feel a bit overwhelmed. That’s where your #FrayLife fam comes in! We’re here to save the snowball day with our definitive guide to frozen goodness.
What is a Snowball?
In order to explain what a snowball is, it’s important to clarify what a snowball is not.
A snowball is not a snow cone. A snowball isn’t made from ice chips so hard they feel like shards of glass in your mouth, nor is the syrup from a snowball drained in the first three bites.
A snowball is not a slushy. A snowball is not blended then slurped up through an oversized straw. A snowball is savored slowly, with a combination of spoon and straw used for maximum enjoyment.
#FrayLife Tip: If you’re looking for a slushy, try a daiquiri or granita instead, both of which can be found all over the city. The former will get you sloshed, and the latter will sober you up afterward.
So what is a snowball exactly? Start with shaved ice. Not just any shaved ice, though, ice as soft and silky as newly fallen snow: “fresh powder,” as ski enthusiasts would say. This silky smooth ice is freshly shaved, then packed into a cup with a signature dome on top. Next comes the flavored syrup. Not just any flavored syrup you’d find at the grocery, but delicious homemade syrups in a million and one flavors from classics like chocolate and vanilla to exotics like tiger’s blood, grapefruit-basil, or even king cake. The syrups are liberally and lovingly dispensed through a juice running through the snowball, so your treat is completely saturated, and “good to the last drop.” A spoon and a straw are then stuck in the top of your snowball, creating the iconic image seen on t-shirts, signs, and artwork throughout town.
What kinds of Snowballs are there?
So, you’ve decided you want to try a snowball. Good choice! The decision-making doesn’t stop there, however. One does not simply walk into a snowball stand and order.
There are a few choices you need to make, the first being regular, cream, or sugar-free. Regular flavors are made with a simple-syrup base, cream flavors use a cream-based syrup, and sugar-free are made with sugar alternatives. Most places are happy to combine flavors for you as well.
Once you’ve picked your flavor(s), you have to decide if you want it classic or stuffed. Classic is just with the flavor syrup. Stuffed snowballs are stuffed in the middle with soft serve ice cream, or at some shops, like Sno-La, even fancier treats like cheesecake.
Finally, you have to decide if you want any toppings. While most stands offer the usual toppings you find at ice cream parlors (whipped cream, cherry, etc.), the traditional topping for a New Orleans snowball is a drizzle of condensed milk on top.
Where are the best Snowballs?
Ok, you’re ready to dive into a sweet, refreshing iced confection. The question is: where to get one of these heavenly delights? Many stands operate seasonally, so in the summer you’ve got the most options. For the quintessential snowball, you can’t beat Hansen’s Sno-Bliz (West Riverside), which has been a New Orleans favorite since 1939.
If you’re heading Uptown, Williams Plum Street and Sno-La are great options. Closer to downtown, Imperial Woodpecker is a new stand that offers standards, as well as many unique flavors.
In Mid City, Pandora’s is a classic stand right off the streetcar line, and Ike’s is near City Park. Bring Fido along to Ike’s and get him one of their meat-flavored Doggy Snowballs.
Though Snowballs are all New Orleans, head out to Metairie if you’re a true connoisseur. Sal’s Sno-Ball Stand, Lou-Lou’s Snoballs, and Casey’s are all worth the trip to the burbs, as well as the second Sno-La location.
#FrayLife Tip: Wondering if there’s a snowball stand near you? Check out the free New Orleans Snowball Finder app, which tells you locations, operating hours, and even flavors. (Available in the app store).
How do you enjoy summertime snowballs? Share with us in the comments and tag #Fraylife and #NOLAFray on social!
Looking for other ways to stay cool this summer? Check out our Beat the Heat blog!
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