Summer in New Orleans Means a Good Old-Fashioned Sno Ball Fight
NOLA knows how to keep things cool.
Snow balls may not stand a chance in the heat, but snoballs are the best cure for summer's heat in New Orleans. The classic New Orleans style sno-ball is neither a snow cone nor a Hawaiian-style shave ice, but is a velvety concoction of fluffy, freshly-shaved ice that pairs perfectly with chocolate sauce or fruit or condensed milk or any of the sugary syrups that come in flavors that have become their own culinary art form.
There's no doubt that snoballs are a delicious treat that can combat any heat wave, but if you ask a roomful of New Orleans residents which place serves up the best snoball, well, you're fixing for a snoball fight.
Hansen's Sno-Bliz has been churning out snoballs since 1939 using the same ice-shaving machine that the owner invented back in 1934. Hansen's may have even invented the iconic Cream of Nectar flavor, as a riff on the old-fashioned New Orleans' soda fountain staple, the nectar soda. While the stand has been around for decades, they stay modern by giving a twist to the classics with toppings like bananas foster, satsuma, and charred peach syrup, all of which helped earn them a James Beard Award.
Uptown favorite Plum Street Sno-Balls serves their snoballs in Chinese take-out containers, filled with fluffy ice topped with flavors like red velvet cake and lemon meringue cream. Mid City snoball aficionados know to swing through Pandora's for a snoball covered in Tootsie Roll syrup or Honey Almond or any of their 113 flavors. Imperial Woodpecker is a relative newcomer to the snoball scene, offering housemade cereal and banana creams or flavors like cucumber mint or lemon basil.
If you're out late, Sal's Sno-Balls in Old Metairie stays open through the evening turning crushed ice into sugary magic. They've been in business since the 1960s, which has given them a lot of time to develop their lineup of wild flavors like Pink Squirrel (nectar creme with almond), Yellow Cake Batter, and a chocolate version made with Hershey's syrup.
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While snoball purists consider stuffed snoballs to be blasphemy, they do let you satisfy your sweet tooth with two desserts in one. At Ike's Snowballs they come stuffed with ice cream while over at SNO-LA, they fill their icy delights with cheesecake.
These are just a few of the snoball shops that consistently rise to the top of the city's best of lists, but everyone has their own favorite and their own memories of a childhood spent waiting in line for the icy sweet treat. The only way to settle the matter once and for all is to try them all.