Tonight in New York, the food world will recognize what New Orleans has known for 75 years - that Hansen's Sno-Bliz is a food icon. The beloved snowball stand will be honored by the James Beard Awards as an "American classic." The award will be presented tonight.
Channel 4 photographer Tom Moore was at Hansen's for its opening day this season, and produced this special photo essay (above) to mark the anniversary and the award.
Ernest and Mary Hansen opened the stand in 1939, five years after Mr. Hansen applied for a U.S. patent for his electric ice-shaving machine, one of the first and best of its kind. His wife, Mary, made all of the snowball syrups from scratch and for more than 65 years, her smiling face served customers as they made their way to the front of the often long line. The Hansens died just a few months after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Today the business is run by the Hansens’ granddaughter, Ashley, who follows her grandparents’ adherence to the highest of snowball standards. The family business motto “There are no shortcuts to quality” lives on in her work.
The James Beard Foundation, which presents the annual awards honoring the best in the food world, will honor Hansen’s as one of this year’s America’s Classics. The distinction is given to local restaurants, often family-owned, that are treasured for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal.
“The snow-ball, one of the city’s iconic desserts was practically invented at Hansen’s. Made of shaved-to-order ice, a Hansen’s snow-ball -- which the family calls a Sno Bliz -- comes doused in house-made syrups that run an extraordinary gamut of flavors,” said the foundation in its announcement.
“Like her forebears, Ashley Hansen opens her doors only during the summer. When Hansen’s is open, a queue forever spills out its door and snakes back through the stand’s small interior, following a painted yellow line, known to regulars as the yellow brick road. Eventually that line leads to the counter, where a crew of young workers takes orders, shaves ice, douses cones, and cultivates a diverse community, one treat at a time.”
Also honored will be Chef John Besh, who is being inducted into James Beard's Who's Who of Food and Beverage. Other James Beard award contenders tonight include Peche (nominated for best new restaurant); and several chefs nominated for Best Chef: South: Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery; Alon Shaya of Domenica; and Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's and Ivy.