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snowballs in baltimore

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Jessica Jun 13, 2006 06:38 PM

Hi -- my aunt is coming to visit this weekend and is craving a snowball. Not just any snowball, but the very best I can procure. Does anyone have any ideas of any interesting snowball stands, or venues at which snowballs are available? I realize this is a slightly odd "food" to be discriminating about, but thought I'd ask for ideas. Thanks for any help.

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  1. k
    ko RE: Jessica Jun 13, 2006 08:53 PM

    I don't have an answer for your request, unfortunately, but don't apologize for making it. That kind of question is supposed to be a good part of what this site is all about. With luck, you'll get some good ideas here. What part of town should the snowballs ideally be in?

    11 Replies
    1. re: ko
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      Jessica RE: ko Jun 14, 2006 01:43 AM

      Okay, snoballs (the grammar snob in me just struggles, but I'll give it a go). I live in Baltimore city, but we will be doing a food tour of Baltimore, so anywhere is fair game. So far, we are planning to go from Halethorpe to Hunt Valley in search of the perfect pitbeef, so location's just not a big issue -- just to narrow it down, I'd say anywhere in the city or Towson/Cockeysville area.

      I agree, it's pretty hard to come up with a novel snoball (yikes), but I'm still looking. Any unusual flavors, locations, something slightly more interesting than the usual. And yes, egg custard is an absolute must.

      Thanks again for any advice (and encouragement!)

      Jess

      1. re: Jessica
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        atls14620 RE: Jessica Jun 14, 2006 10:00 AM

        Okay. Disclaimer: never been to any of these, but here are some ones I've heard/read about.

        Link below is a website about the "Snowball Stand" (yes, I believe this is the way they spell it), which evidently has been making sno(w)balls for 30 years and is a local treasure. It's in Granite, at the corner of Route 99 (Old Frederick Road) and Woodstock Road; to get there, go out 70, take 29N, first exit off 29N should be Route 99; go west; look for the stand.

        Back in 2004, there was an article in the Sun paper about two sno(w)ball stands: Tastee Zone and Opies. Evidently, they are on the same block on Edmonson Ave (they take their sno(w)balls seriously out west), separated only by an Italian deli and a 7-11. In Catonsville, evidently one is either a Tastee Zone or Opies person. Go figure.

        Finally, in City Paper's best of 2005, they picked Snoasis, which has two locations (Joppa and Falls Road in Lutherville; 30 E. Padonia Road in Timonium). Both locations are on your way to Weggies.

        If you want more suggestions, you may want to check back "Best of" editions in the City Paper.

        Hope this helps.

        Link: http://granitehistory.org/snowball.html

        1. re: atls14620
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          DC Gal RE: atls14620 Jun 14, 2006 10:17 AM

          I'm intrigued - can someone describe the sno(w)balls to me?

          Are they like a shaved ice in Hawaii? Are there fruit flavors as well? I'm not much of a cream person, so the egg cream woudln't be appealing to me.

          But, a refreshing fruit ice concoction might be worth a drive up from VA one hot afternoon this coming summer.

          1. re: DC Gal
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            ko RE: DC Gal Jun 14, 2006 11:12 AM

            Most flavors are fruit, the ice is not as fine as shave ice. Egg custard is not as creamy as the name might suggest.

            1. re: ko
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              DC Gal RE: ko Jun 14, 2006 03:17 PM

              So, is it more like the granulated ice texture of a ballpark snocone than the shaved ice? Either way is good by me, just curious. And, are these usually just the small stands that you find on the edge of a shopping center parking lot? Growing up in Texas we had them all over. I'm guessing this is similar.

              1. re: DC Gal
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                ko RE: DC Gal Jun 14, 2006 04:44 PM

                Right on all counts.

                1. re: DC Gal
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                  gusshusband RE: DC Gal Jun 14, 2006 05:17 PM

                  With that said, there are different schools of thought on the consistency of the ice. Snoasis, for example, which is mentioned above uses a much finer "cut of ice" while many other stands have a more granulated ice.

                  I am a big fan of both, I find the snoasis type ice to be easier to eat, but it does not hold up as well to the flavorings as the more granulated

              2. re: DC Gal
                j
                Jessica RE: DC Gal Jun 14, 2006 12:05 PM

                Sno(w)balls are pretty much an integral part of growing up in Baltimore, although there are cheap imitations elsewhere.

                Clearly, I'm biased by my own upbringing, but sno(w)balls are the most perfect treat after a day of swimming, hiking, etc. As ko said, most flavors are fruit, but with the advent of bizarre childrens' fads, we end up with things like "Barney" flavored (I'm guessing grape). There are many many other flavors, including chocolate, and some less traditional fruits and various concoctions. Many stands also serve a sugar-free variant for the most traditional flavors. My personal favorite is without a doubt egg custard with marshmallow.

                I'm not sure it warrants a big trip, but if you're in the area anyhow, it's definitely worth a try.

              3. re: atls14620
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                boredatwork RE: atls14620 Jun 14, 2006 04:11 PM

                Opie's in Catonsville is amazing. I didn't technically grow up in Catonsville, but both of my parents did and I'm up there almost every other weekend. I've been going to Opie's since I was too little to know what it was, their snoballs are the best, and they have a tremendous selection. My personal fave is Tutti Frutti! And now I really wanna just hop in my car and drive up there for one, but alas, there is traffic.

                1. re: boredatwork
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                  christinecorgi RE: boredatwork Jul 11, 2008 07:40 AM

                  what kind of ice does Opie's have/

                  I have been craving the chunkier ice rather than the snow-like ice.

                  And where is Opie's please?

                  1. re: christinecorgi
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                    bmorecupcake RE: christinecorgi Jul 11, 2008 01:41 PM

                    I grew up in Catonsville and frankly, although I like their soft serve, I don't think Opie's snoballs are all that good. One of the reasons is that I don't like the chunkier ice. If you like the chunkier ice, then Opie's is what you are looking for. I also find that the Kavern-brand syrups used by Tastee Zone (down the street from Opie's) and other stands around bmore are generally a lot better. (Never get orange flavor from Opie's.) I am a Tutti Frutti fanatic, and Opie's version is just ok for me. I do like their blue cotton candy.

                    You can visit Opie's website at: http://www.opiesicecream.com/

          2. c
            chesapeakesun RE: Jessica Jun 13, 2006 09:44 PM

            Where in Baltimore are you? There aren't too many places that serve sub-standard snoballs. It is kinda like crabcakes in MD, you serve a bad one and you're run outta the state!

            Make sure you get your aunt the egg custard flavor...

            Oh, and Snoballs lacks a "w". If you see a stand that spells it with a "w" (snowballs), tip-off, don't go there.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chesapeakesun
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              KAZ RE: chesapeakesun Jun 14, 2006 11:54 AM

              I've always wondered about the W or no W thing in the sno(w)ball culture. I have yet to recognize a pattern.

              First, is there a geographic bias to the spelling? Does South Balwmer do it one way, the suburbs another etc? I have yet to find a difference.

              More importantly, you seem to indicate spelling confers quality. Can this be verified?

              That would be a very worthwhile adventure for the collective 'hound community. Everyone go to atleast three sno(w)ball stands this weekend and post back a quailty report and the presence/absence of the W.

              1. re: KAZ
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                oschmickel RE: KAZ May 30, 2010 06:25 AM

                Hopefully I can settle this matter - Snowballs (with a w) were invented in Baltimore at the turn of the 19th century, there they remained with a w.

                In New Orleans during the depression, they became widely popular and a man invented an electric ice crusher, and branded snowballs made from that as Snocones.

                In Baltimore this machine helped snowball makers make more profit, so they started using them, and blended the two names to form snoballs.

                Today, stands that crush their ice call them snoballs and ones that shave it call them snowballs. That being said, many of the less popular sno(w)ball stands are not as emersed in the culture, and just pick the name they think sounds better.

            2. k
              Kimmer RE: Jessica Jun 14, 2006 08:51 AM

              I grew up in the Brooklyn Park area and have yet to enjoy a better swnoball than those sold at the corner of Church Street and Ritchie Highway. Lots of variety and marshmallow, chocolate sauce and ice cream. I've been eating them for almost 40 years. I've been all around the world and come home every summer just for those snowballs.

              1. m
                MarkF RE: Jessica Jun 14, 2006 12:08 PM

                If I remember, there's a snoball stand on Hammonds Ferry Road, maybe a half block from Olive Grove. Don't know if it's the best though.

                1. p
                  pamd RE: Jessica Jun 14, 2006 09:41 PM

                  my all time favorite is Mimi's Hawaiian on Liberty Rd (out near Eldersburg).
                  Downtown, I used to prefer Snoasis in Federal Hill (if it's still there) Right before blockbuster/ shopping center off Fort Ave.

                  1. t
                    theprofessorandMARYANN RE: Jessica Jun 15, 2006 02:02 PM

                    I have been to the one in Granite and it is very good. Love the orangecicle flavor. And marshmallow is a must, but get it up in the middle - they put ice and flavor, then marshmellow then top it with ice and flavor again.

                    Cindy's on Rt 1 in Elkridge is also a favorite of ours.

                    1. p
                      Phu Bai RE: Jessica Jun 15, 2006 02:17 PM

                      There are two variations on the snowball/snoball in the area. The old traditional was made from shaved ice. The stand actually had a huge block of solid ice and a hand scraper was run across the block to produce a shaved,fine,soft ice.The ice was placed in a paper "boat" not a cup, the flavor was added and the wooden spoon stuck into the ice. This required no electricity.Many times the "snoball" stand was in the basement of the home. The flavors were generally made at the home where the stand was located.
                      With the advent of readily available electricity the ice machine became norm. This ice is more of a chopped,chunky ice style and the flavoring came mass produced by various suppliers in the market.(Flavor-Kist? which I believe still operates off Washington Blvd.) This has since been refined to an electric ice shaver which creates an ice similiar to the old hand shaved.
                      The was once upon a time, a stand off Harford Rd near Frankford in the Hamilton section that still made there own flavors..but its been years since I was there...

                      1. j
                        Jessica RE: Jessica Jun 15, 2006 03:04 PM

                        Wow - thanks for so many ideas. I'm sure we'll try Opie's and Snoasis, as well as a few other places. Really, what a perfect thing to have to eat multiple times in a weekend.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Jessica
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                          chowsearch RE: Jessica May 30, 2010 12:04 PM

                          The one attached to Valley Exxon at Joppa and Falls is top notch with enclised kid play areas and tables with umbrellae.

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