Snoballs are only in season in New Orleans when it’s over 60 degrees. A summer staple, snoball stands are packed starting in late spring until they close for winter around November.
Not to be confused with northern snow cones, snoballs aren’t shaved ice that’s been refrozen. It’s shaved, brought to a point with a funnel, and then covered in colorful, sugary, flavored syrup. There are standard flavors, but specific snoball stands have their own concoctions. And everyone has their staple snoball stand. Three of the most popular stands are Hansen’s Sn0-Bliz (just Hansen’s to most people), open since 1939, Sal’s Sno-Balls, which opened in 1960 and Plum Street Snoballs, open since 1945. The stands have their signatures, like Plum Street serving snoballs in traditional pails, which are Chinese take-out boxes, and Sal’s stuffed snoballs and $7 bucket. They take soft serve ice cream and stuff it in the middle. If they aren’t stuffed, most stands can put soft serve on top or condensed milk, another staple snoball topping. Original flavors, like orchid vanilla, king cake, and strawberry shortcake, are constantly being added and keep things interesting.
More than the delicious dessert, snoballs and snoball stands have countless memories attached. Plum Street catered big school events like volleyball games and the senior’s last day of class. My friends and I would go to Plum Street on our breaks during rehearsal for the spring musical, and leave our plastic wrapped pails in the bleachers while we practiced. Sal’s is on the Metairie St. Patrick’s Day parade route, so my friend and I would always stop by sometime during the day. In the summer, I did community theatre at a church across the street, and we’d get snoballs after rehearsal and sit on the log benches for hours. One night, seven of us split the giant $7 snoball after an exhausting dance rehearsal. I’ve never seen a snoball eaten so fast.