Snowballs in summer

Snowballs in summer

By David Wantz, University of Indianapolis

It’s hot in Indiana these days with heat indexes that seem like batting averages. It makes me wish we had a snowball stand in this city.

A snowball, in my mind is neither Hawaiian Shaved Ice nor a sno-cone. Hawaiian Shaved Ice is more like a 7-11 Slurpee, but too thin and more expensive. A sno-cone is a hard ball of solid ice, over which has been drizzled something blue (usually) and is served in a paper cone. It doesn’t eat easily, if you know what I mean. The ice is too hard for the plastic spoon and the paper cone disintegrates once the ice does melt.

On a hot Indiana day, I want a real snowball, the kind they sell on the East Coast. A snowball comes in a waxed paper cup that won’t fall apart on you. The cup is filled with ice that has been crushed fine until it is about the size of the typed letter o.

The perky owner’s-daughter’s-girlfriend’s-cousin’s-neighbor who prepares the snowball, will ask you if you want marshmallow. You do. If it’s a good snowball stand, she will fill the cup half way with snowball ice, scoop a dollop of marshmallow in, squirt a bit of flavor in, and fill the cup with more snowball ice.

Then she will pour on the rest syrup and finish it with another big slap of marshmallow creme. There are about 890 permutations of flavors these days. Old hands at eating snowballs prefer the simple ones: blood orange, sky-blue, cherry, grape, lime, mint, or egg custard. Younger people like Superstar, or Razzle-dazzle, or Atomic Heat. I have no idea what they contain; the kids glow after dark, though.

After three or four spoonfuls, your sinuses will seize, giving you a headache the size of Montana. You have to work your way through the headache, crunching the bits of ice and savoring the flavors. You will get marshmallow on your lips, your fingers, your cheeks, and your clothes. It’s part of the ritual.

If you venture east to say Baltimore, DC, or Philly, stop at one of the locally owned snowball stands. Don’t dawdle looking over the encyclopedic list of flavors. Be assertive. Ask for a medium, egg custard with marshmallow. Folks will assume you’re a local. As you fight off the brain-freezing headache by breathing in through your mouth and out through your nose, you can study the flavors and decide on the next one.

It’s what you need to survive a hot, humid summer.

Maybe you have some thoughts about food as well. Let me invite you to share them during the 15th annual Spirit and Place Civic Festival this year. The theme is Food for Thought and will run from November 5 through 15. I am David Wantz and I am a member of the S&P board. I hope you will join us.

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