Snoballs: A Quick History of Louisiana’s Coolest Treat

Snoballs have been a part of Louisiana’s food history for nearly 100 years. Once local to the Big Easy, the treat can now be found throughout Southeast Louisiana.

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A pink and red snoball fills a cup, and is topped with a small drink umbrella.

Since 1934, Hansen's Sno-Bliz has offered sweet and tasty treats in New Orleans. 

Berry Chantilly Snoball
Sno-La Snowballs

Snoballs range from classic flavors like strawberry and ice cream to fanciful variations, such as cheescake-stuffed berry chantilly or bananas foster.

Louisiana’s storied food history boasts everything from boudin to oysters – not to mention Tabasco hot sauce and plenty of signature cocktails. For all of the state’s spice, though, there is plenty of sweetness to go around. More specifically, snowy sweetness. Welcome to your bucket list a Southern cult classic: Snoballs.

Snoballs Defined

Characterized by expert ice-shaving techniques, snoballs are pillowy mounds of ice flavored with syrups. Unlike snow cones, whose ice is more coarse, a snoball’s texture is smooth, more like that of Italian ice.

A Quick History

In 1934, Ernest Hansen built the first-ever “Sno-Bliz,” a block-ice shaving machine that modernized the growing industry of corner snoball stands. Two years later, New Orleans grocer George Ortolano developed the SnoWizard, a product that also produced delicate, snow-like flakes of ice.

Once the texture of snoballs was made consistent by machinery, creators focused on defining their craft with signature syrups, sauces and combinations. Snoballs come in flavors that range from fresh fruit to wedding cake, and are often drizzled in condensed milk or even stuffed with ice cream. 

Must-Try Snoball Stands

Now that we have your mouth watering, here are some great places to enjoy Louisiana’s signature icy treat.

1. Hansen’s Sno-Bliz

Ernest Hansen, ice-shaving machine developer, founded this New Orleans staple. With uncommon flavors like satsuma, cream of nectar and cardamom, and nearly a century of support from patrons, it’s no wonder this snoball stand was named a 2014 American Classic by the James Beard Foundation. 

2. Plum St. Snowballs

In a quaint yellow building just steps from Tulane University sits Plum St. Snowballs. Since 1945, the company has served delightful, cooling treats to uptown New Orleans. They’re known for their snowball buckets — a plastic gallon filled with whichever fruity flavor you desire.

3. Debbie’s Snowballs

Since 1970, Debbie’s Snowballs has offered West Monroe the gift of homemade syrups, old-fashioned ice cream and malts. Their snoballs are drizzled with syrups like blackberry, Butterfinger and banana pudding.

 4. Just Chillin’ Mandeville

No need to wait until the weather heats up for a snoball from Just Chillin’ Mandeville. This shop offers Louisiana’s Northshore ice-cold desserts all year long. Apart from acclaimed snoballs, they serve housemade ice creams in playful flavors like Creole Cream Cheese and Banana Malt.

5. SnoMan Snoballs

Baton Rouge’s SnoMan Snoballs offers 55 flavors and infinite combinations. Their specialty toppings include typical confections, sure, but also items like evaporated milk and marshmallow fluff. For a rich and filling twist, try a snoball stuffed with cheesecake

Snoballs are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Louisiana’s food history. Dive deeper on one of eight different culinary trail tours.