Posted by: deerharas | July 10, 2009

Where are all the snow cone stands?

I moved to Illinois toward the end of last summer, evidently too late to realize its total lack of what, to me, is quintessentially summer.  However, as the weather grew warmer this year (relatively speaking, that is) I began to notice a strange absence of the little booths gracing almost every street corner in Texas and Oklahoma.  Where were all the snow cone stands?  I thought surely I just wasn’t looking hard enough and if I was just more alert in my day to day commutes I would certainly stumble upon one.  Nope.  Nowhere.  Not a single stand was to be found.  I lamented this fact one night at small group, whiningly asking the same question, “Where are all the snow cone stands in Illinois???”  J.C., ever helpful with the advice, piped up to tell me that there was one at Oak Brook mall.  Not exactly around the corner, but I filed that tidbit away for a hot and humid Illinois day.

Well last week that day came, and coupled with the need for a Clinique run, I head out in search of whichever store was having “bonus week.”  Lord & Taylor it was, so with face-wash (and cute tote-bag) in tow, I set out for my highly anticipated snow cone … the first of the year.

Let’s just say I should have waited for Texas.  I paid $3 for the most pathetic excuse for a snow cone I have ever tasted.  I could have rustled up a better one myself with a block of ice, a knife and some grape kool-aid.  There are plenty of reasons that I absolutely love living in the Chicago area, but when it comes to snow cones, Chicagoland has a lot to learn from the south.

So here is my perhaps not-so-humble attempt to explain to my northern friends the supremacy of the southern snow cone … you don’t know what you’ve been missing.

1. An excellent snow cone needs excellent ice.  Not just any ice-shaving machine will do.  If it’s something you’re supposed to turn with your arm, it’s no good.  You need a machine that will produce something the consistency of actual snow, and usually this requires a motor.  Only then will you get the most even distribution of syrup throughout the cone, which brings me to #2.

2. An excellent snow cone needs excellent syrup.  Now this one can be a gamble, no matter where you are.  A good indicator of superior syrup is the number of options available.  Oddly enough, it seems that the more flavors offered, the better the syrup quality.  And don’t be put off by strange flavor names, either.  If you find yourself at a stand advertising “Pretty, Pretty Princess” or “Ninja Turtle,” you know you’re in the presence of true snow cone creativity.

In addition to these, I would add the necessity of a styrofoam cup (I know, I know … I’m a bad environmentalist) and a spoon straw.  A good top is a must; this can be accomplished using anything from a funnel to the end of a ladle.  Some stands in Oklahoma put in gummie bears which can be a delightful addition.  Really, it’s not that hard, guys.  And there’s a wide open market up north.  🙂

(me & my brother at our favorite Abilene snow cone stand)



  1. Amen, sister. We were equally appalled by the lack of snow cone stands in DC/Maryland, so we hit up Cajun Cones shortly after our arrival in Texas. And might I add that another important component for me (not for everyone) is the sour spray stuff…mmmmm, refreshing!

    See you soon! And your hair is super cute!

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