Explore New Orleans

Snoballs: New Orleans' Cure for the Summertime Heat

Chill out with a Crescent City classic.

It snows in New Orleans in spring. Seriously. March heralds the re-opening of many popular snoball stands closed since September, and the businesses are back in full swing by May. By now, locals have moved past their snoball season kickoff flavor and are eager to try something new. Traditionalists keep it simple and classic, but just as king cake has evolved in recent years beyond plain brioche with colored sugar to rings filled with everything from bananas and bacon to muffuletta fixings, so too have snoballs rolled wild. Nowadays, the crazier the combo, the bigger the audience.

Hansen's Sno-Bliz New Orleans
Founded in 1939, Hansen's is New Orleans' oldest and most-popular snoball stand. (©Shawn Fink)

Uptown, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz is known for clever gourmet culinary flavors including bananas Foster and thai-basil; but go old-school with the sweet-tart “Mary’s Own.” Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls also has some cool cream flavors; try the half “Chicory Cream”/ half “Cereal Cream,” lovingly dubbed “Breakfast Snow.” At SnoWizard, retro flavors such as “Dreamsicle Cream” are offered, along with unusual syrups such as “Wine Cooler” and “Chamoy” (chiles, apricot, lime and mixed fruit).

Imperial Woodpecker Snoballs in New Orleans
One of the city newest snoball vendors, Imperial Woodpecker got its start in Manhattan. (©Shawn Fink)

After a stroll through City Park, brave the long line at Mid-City’s Pandora’s for a snoball that mimics a frozen petit four—a layer of shaved ice with “Wedding Cake” syrup, soft-serve in the middle and more ice topped with “Buttercream Cream.” Wild sno is worth going the distance for. A Lakeview trek rewards with “Chocolate Sno-Cream” snoballs (frozen chocolate syrup scooped like ice cream) at NolaSnow, while Sno-La is renowned for its “Peanut Butter Cream” snoball, stuffed with peanut butter cheesecake and topped with either strawberry or grape syrup. 

To get the scoop on New Orleans’ sno(ball) storm, pick up a copy of Crescent City Snow, local author (and occassional WhereTraveler contributor) Megan Braden-Perry’s “ultimate guide” to snoball stands, snoballs, syrup flavors, toppings and more. Perry adds history and her personal connection to the local shaved-ice treat, along with tasting notes and tips to deliciously navigate the cool world of the city’s iconic seasonal dessert.

Summer’s heat is a long stretch; good thing there’s plenty of snow. Have a ball.