It may not quite feel like snowball weather Friday, but if you do have a craving for one of the best in New Orleans – and America, according to the James Beard awards – head to Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, as the culinary landmark opens for its 75th season.
The snowball stand at Tchoupitoulas and Bordeaux marks its diamond anniversary Friday as it reopens for the warmer spring and summer months.
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.
Just last week, the James Beard Foundation, which presents the annual awards honoring the best in the food world, honored 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.”