Summer in New Orleans is synonymous with snoball stands. No matter what time of day, you’re guaranteed to see people standing in line for one of these icy, sweet treats. Whether you’re a kid who just got out of summer camp, a construction worker trying to beat the heat, or a college student enjoying the long, lazy days of no classes, there’s nothing quite like cooling down with a sugary snoball in the afternoon.
The grand-daddy of all snoball stands, Hansen’s Snow-Bliz on Tchoupitoulas Street, has been easing the heat of summer for 71 years, and is still going strong. Owned and operated by the original owners’ granddaughter, their snoballs may cool you down but Hansen’s rich history is sure to warm your soul. Ernest Hansen invented the very first ice shaving machine in the 1930s and his wife, Mary, came up with all of the flavored syrups. They worked side by side for decades, until they both passed away during the months after Katrina in 2005. But their legend lives on as Ernest’s original Sno-Bliz machine continues to shave the fluffiest, most snow-like ice you can imagine, setting Hansen’s apart from the many other snoball stands in the city.
Hours of operation are from 1pm to 7pm Tuesday through Sunday, and only cash is accepted. Expect long lines, considering the short hours of operation and the fact that most snoball stands are only open from May to August, creating the mad dash to get them while you can. Also, Hansen’s follows a very strict preparation process. Each snoball is made in layers; a little bit of freshly shaved snow, a little syrup, more snow, more syrup, and so forth. This time-consuming process is one of the reasons Hansen’s is so good, and why they coined the phrase “There are no shortcuts to quality,” a phase they proudly display on their walls and cups. Everyone swears by their own flavor or combination, but I like my Hansen’s snoball with half strawberry cream and half pineapple juice, then topped with condensed milk. But however you like your Hansen’s snoball, you like it for all the right reasons: Supporting a family business, the use of quality ingredients, and one heck of a delicious product.