Dominic Massa / EyewitnessNews

Josie Marino Ortolano, the woman affectionately known by family and friends as the Queen of the Snowball, who with her husband created the SnoWizard company that manufactures syrups and ice machines used to make the favorite Crescent City confection, died Nov. 20. She was 103.

Mrs. Ortolano and her husband George, who founded the SnoWizard company, were married for 66 years before his death in 1997.

The company they founded started small, with their first snowball stand located Uptown, at Magazine and Delachaise Streets.

According to the company, in 1936, George Ortolano invented and manufactured the SnoWizard SnoBall machine, which became one of the standard pieces of equipment used to crush and shave ice for use in snowball stands citywide and throughout the region.
The Ortolanos' nephew, Ron Sciortino, now runs the company.

Mrs. Ortolano assisted her husband by not only running the business but also creating flavors for the snowballs, with an assortment of extracts and flavorings, evaporated and condensed milk, resulting in what family members call her specialties: nectar cream and chocolate cream.

The Ortolanos success mirrored that of another famous local snowball family, Ernest and Mary Hansen, who owned and operated Hansen's Sno-Bliz. Mr.Hansen devised the machine used to shave the ice for snowballs which Mrs. Hansen's homemade syrups sweetened.

Mrs. Ortolano is survived by six grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.

Read or Share this story: