The Woodstock Snowball Stand – A Local Tradition

Before we get to the Woodstock Snowball Stand, lets ask – Snowball vs Snow Cones: Which Frozen Treat Stands Supreme?

Even for those of us who aren’t really summer people, the season gives us something to rejoice about especially if we happen to be in the Northern states. A delicious frozen desert that can’t help, but make nearly anyone who has tasted one smile – the beloved Snowball! What’s a snowball? A cousin of other shaved iced dessert popular world-wide like the Snow Cone and Italian Ice. One that many are proud advocates for!  Snowball vs Snow Cones? Let’s dig deeper!

snow cone stand

What’s the Difference between a Snowball and Snow Cone?

Now unless you are (like me) a frozen dessert enthusiast it may not be clear what a snowball is compared to a snow cone unless you had both in front of you.

A snowball is a cup of shaved (not crushed) ice with a delicious flavoring poured on top. Crushed ice is used for snow cones outside of the Northern states and most people agree when doing a taste test that the shaved ice gives a much nicer more delicate taste. This is our main difference between the two, but oh what a difference it is!

Snow cones are pretty widely popular through out America mainly due to a few commercial chains making the crushed ice desserts available in places like movie theaters and convenience stores year round. They taste great, but in places where both ice dessert varieties are available the snowball is almost always more popular by a very large margin! Try them both and I think you will agree.

Southern Snowballs?

The Deep South (think New Orleans) offers a local version of what they also call a snowball, but please don’t confuse this with the Northern variety. In New Orleans they shave the ice almost paper thin which gives the dessert the consistency of a near liquid almost. Tasty, but much different than then North’s snowball. Having compared the two I have to, again, give the edge to the thicker shaved variety served in the Northern states! Not that I would turn down a New Orleans version on a hot summer day, of course.

Summer Time in Baltimore: Enter the Snowball

It’s up for a bit of debate, but most people agree that the snowball was created in Baltimore, MD a place where it’s almost impossible to think of a Summer without them. Please don’t even think about a snow cone in Baltimore – people will look at you like your crazy. Baltimore is the crowned king of snowballs and if you visit in the Spring or Summer be sure to go to one of the many places where they are offered and indulge like a local you’ll be glad you did.

When was the snowball debuted in Baltimore? You may be surprised to hear, but way back in the mid 1800’s! In fact as soon as frozen blocks of ice began being shipped from the North East to the South, with pit stops being made in Baltimore crafty children had been asking for some of the ice shavings as a tasty treat. Once this trend was established mom’s got in on the action making their own tasty ice toppings! One of the first, and still beloved in Baltimore today, is egg custard! Not seen very often in other parts of the country it’s absolutely heavenly and shouldn’t be missed. Thank you Baltimore for the snowball!

Snowball vs Snow Cones: Our Conclusion!

Now any cool treat on a hot day is a welcome escape. Snowballs are, however, a step above and beyond any of their competition. In my opinion, and that of many others at least! A real great reason to love Summer in the North!

Woodstock Snowball Stand

The Woodstock Snowball Stand

Recently I learned that snowballs fall into the same category as other foods no one else on the planet really eats. Snowballs are sweet, brightly colored, and inexpensive, but the most important things are timeless. Snowballs appeals to all ages, and who could possibly not crave such a shaved-ice confection on a hot summer day?

Aside from the Midwest, the “snow cones” (similar, but made of coarser ice, crushed instead of shaved) are more common, but nobody really does snowballs outside of Maryland.

Perhaps the fact that snowballs are such an inexpensive treat explains their timeless success; today a dollar will still buy a large snowball with, marshmallow topping.

Snowballs have definitely been around a long time since the end of the 19th century. At “The Snowball Stand” in Woodstock, Erin Compton has made snowball-making down to a science since 1977. It is an art form making a snowball, as you need the right amount of syrup and ice. Options are ranging from traditional fruit flavors to combinations involving ice cream, chocolate syrup, and marshmallow or candy toppings. Make sure to check out the flavor of the day for shaved ice and the portions are a good size.

Visit the original Snowball Stand at:

Route 99 and Woodstock Road, Woodstock

1970 Woodstock Rd, Woodstock, MD 21163

Season are: Mid-April – mid-September

Opening hours: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm daily, Wednesday closed

Read more stories about going green here!

Picture 1 thanks to Keoni Cabral