New Orleans summers can be grueling, with temperatures rising to the 100s and humidity that can be cut with a knife. Locals and visitors alike find brief solace through the doors of what is said to be the oldest snowball stand in the country, Hansen's Sno-Bliz.
Hansen's Sno-Bliz came to life in 1939 after Ernest Hansen invented the first ice-shaving machine. Like many New Orleans residents today, Hansen longed to find a way to beat the summer heat.
At the time, the only available snowballs were made by hand shaving the ice, a technique that Ernest thought lacked sanitation. Luckily, Ernest was a skilled machinist and used his expertise to develop a clean, safe way to produce powdery ice for the sweet treat.
If Ernest was the machine master, then his wife, Mary, was the master of color and sugary sweet flair given to each snowball. Mary developed her own line of homemade syrups
, and the recipes are still used to make fresh batches of syrup daily. Mary, being the business woman that she was, began selling the snowballs off the porch of her mother's home before finding the business's permanent home on Tchoupitoulas Street in 1944. Frozen treats to stay cool and stay slim during summer.
Today, it seems the line to purchase one of these cool concoctions is steadily out the door and around the establishment that is now run by Ernest and Mary's granddaughter, Ashley Hansen. However, patrons know and believe the Hansen family motto, "There are no short cuts to quality." The business was honored with a coveted James Beard award
in 2014 as an American Classic.
Hansen’s Sno-Bliz is open seasonally, Tuesday through Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Be sure to check them out on Wednesdays, the only day of the week to grab its famous Bananas Foster topping!For more New Orleans dining and travel news, click here.