Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just Chillin'

It's 100 degrees out there today !!

So, how do YOU chill down ?
Well, that's ONE way!!!

Hibernating inside in the AC is one solution BUT what if your AC isn't so cooperative?

I've found it helps to eat something cool and refreshing - watermelon, ice cream, cold drinks and ICE, in its many varied forms.

First and foremost in my mind is the good old SNOW BALL - or, as you may know it, the SNO-CONE. (Depends on what part of the country you come from on what you call it.)
If you ignore the dessert made for Emperor Nero in Ancient Rome when he sent slaves to the nearby mountain tops to bring back snow which was then flavored with fruit and honey, the SNOWBALL, as we know it, was invented in Baltimore in the mid-1800's. (New Orleans has attempted to dispute this fact but their frozen treat did not surface until the 1930s and is actually a bit different.)Growing up, it was general knowledge that Baltimore was the snowball's birthplace. My mom told tales of introducing some Floridians to the tasty cooling treat while they were stationed at the Annapolis Naval Base and we even learned about the invention in our local history studies in school. (I DID attend a Baltimore City Public School.)
Seriously, as the story goes, after the invention of commercially made ice in the mid 1850's, the big ice houses in New York would ship huge blocks of ice to Florida and other points South, on wagons. As the wagons passed through town, Baltimore children would scamper up to them and beg for scrapings of ice. They would then take them home to Mom who added some sweet flavor. The most common flavoring was a syruppy egg custard made from eggs, vanilla and sugar. Egg Custard remains one of the most popular snowball flavorings in Baltimore today.

By the 1870's, Baltimore movie theaters began selling snowballs to theater goers during the summer months. One can still find an occasional antique sign advising patrons to finish their snowballs before returning to their seats. (Movies had intermissions in those days.)
Within 20 years, six patents for electric ice shavers had been issued.
During the Great Depression, snowballs were a cheap and refreshing treat, bearing the name "Penny Sundae." (I actually remember purchasing "small" snowballs for as little as fifteen cents and that was loooong after the Depression!)
When WWII came along, all available ice cream was directed to the troops making the snowball an accessible summer treat for those at home. Their popularity spread throughout the country. However, once the war ended, they went back to their status as a regional goodie, enjoyed in the Baltimore/Philadelphia areas and along the Jersey Shore. A variation held it's own in the New Orleans area and, yet a different version, was popular in Hawaii. In between, most people went for ice cream.

Gradually, traveling carnivals began serving Sno-Cones and they are now known throughout the country. They tend to be a bit harder and coarser, created with crushed ice as opposed to shaved and flavored slightly differently.

In the '60s and '70s, toy companies tried to capitalize on the interesting snack. In general, these "toys" took too long to produce results in most children's eyes and created too much mess for most parents but every so many years we see a new version surface for a while.

So, did YOU have a Frosty Sno-Cone maker as a child?
Or a Peanuts version ?

Or did you at least have a snowball truck visit your neighborhood when it got really, really hot?

You know, it's kind of sweltering here at the moment, so I think I'm heading off to my neighborhood snowball stand.

Stay cool, my friend.

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