While so many of us were hoping the arrival of fall and going back to school would also bring a the return of “normal” life, that hope seems to a bit further in the horizon. In times like these there are things that always stay the same, especially in New Orleans. It is September and it’s still hot, which make snowball stands a beacon of hope as we pray for temperatures to drop.
Everyone has a favorite stand, flavor and topping. Often these opinions have been formed over long periods of time over generations of families, but there are so many options these days that it’s worth taking a break from your favorite haunt. Meanwhile, trying new things, comparing qualities and styles are all great lessons that can make a snowball hunt into a fun activity for the entire family.
Because the snowball has such an iconic place in New Orleans history and is so ubiquitous, one can do a public service for their children by explaining a little bit of its history and warning them what will come to pass when they travel away and order the snow-ball’s distant cousin, the snow cone. Local author Megan Braden-Perry’s book, Crescent City Snow: The Ultimate Guide to New Orleans Snowball Stands is a great book to keep in the car and is an exhaustive guide to snowball stands throughout the metro area. While Braden-Perry’s book is very much a guide, it also has a lot of personal stories and memories from the snowball stand owners themselves as well as the author herself. As she writes in her introduction, every snowball is an “icy, sweet token of affection” that brings us back to the memory of a friend who brings us one as a surprise or a getting picked up from school to get one as a surprise. Her book also has pages that allow you to document your own observations and take notes.
While the snowball has a solid place in every New Orleanian’s heart, the sweet treat isn’t immune to change. In picking the stands to put in your family hunt, it’s worth including the classics, the classics that have evolved a bit themselves and even the newer, dare-I-say, artisanal variety. In the classic snowball stand department, Plum Street Snowballs is a constant presence at festivals and standard for your classic flavors like wedding cake. In addition to the Uptown location, they also run a summer stand near the Carousel in Lafreneire Park.
Another classic is Hansen’s Sno-Bliz on Tchoupitoulas Street. While Hansen’s always featured flavors that weren’t “traditional” (you can get apple juice poured on their snow, for example), the original owners’ granddaughter, Ashley Hansen, has updated the original menu with flavors like pomegranate, cardamom and ginger and has even expanded the toppings list to include warm Banana’s Foster along with the traditional condensed milk to top your icy treat.
Finally, a newcomer in the game doesn’t have an official “stand,” but instead is operating as a pop-up in the Bywater. Chance in Hell snowballs describes themselves as “frosty treats for a world on fire,” and “artisanal AF,” so this one may need to be censored a bit for younger children. They have small-batch syrups for their flavors like Satsuma Basil, Mango Chili and Cucumber Cardamom Basil. The pop-up was the creation of two local Drag and Burlesque performers looking to make up for the lack of work during COVID-19, and it has been making a splash in Instagram (where you DM to get the address). They even feature dog snowballs flavored with chicken stock.
What is probably most comforting in these times is that there are some things that always stay the same but that still allow New Orleanians to embrace something new and be creative – a lesson that will likely not be lost on our kids as they face a very different beginning of the school year.
➺ Just the Facts:
Book: Megan Braden-Perry, Crescent City Snow: The Ultimate Guide to New Orleans Snowball Stands (2017) University of Lafayette Press
Note: It is always a good idea to confirm opening and closing times and days for snowball stands by calling ahead or checking on social media.
Plum Street Snowballs:
1300 Burdette St.
Open every day from noon-8 p.m., except Sunday (2-8 p.m.)
4801 Tchoupitoulas St.
Open every day, except Mondays and Tuesdays, 12-6 p.m.
Chance in Hell Snowballs:
Open weekends, 3-7 p.m.
Check @ChanceinHell_Snoballs for address and details