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Snoball VS. Snowcones

Trying to skip the history lesson? Click here to find out the differences between a Snoball and a Snowcone.

bert snow.jpg

Snowcones began their journey in the 1850s, during the American Industrial Revolution. In this time, ice became readily available through the usage of wagons, that helped transport ice blocks along the East Coast. As the ice wagon passed through major cities, children would gather around to get a scrape from an ice block. It was then, that women began to make their own flavoring for the treat.


Fast forward to the late 1870s,   when movie theaters served                      snowcones by hand-shaving ice for their patrons.                       Snowcones were quite the novelty treat, and                           they were seen as 'upper-class', since they were                       associated with attending the movies.

              Nearly five decades later, Samuel Bert, out of Dallas,          Texas, invented a Snowcone machine that could be considered one of the firsts in snowcone history. After inventing it, Bert (also known as "King Sammie") would take his machine to the Texas State Fair, and sell snowcones. Regarding the machine, he patented it, and began to sell it worldwide.


Commonly known as: Snowballs, Shaved Ice, Shave Ice, Hawaiian         Shave         Ice,         Ice        Shave

Shaved  Ice  was enjoyed as early as 27 B.C.E,                            as  there  is  documentation  that   a   Roman

Emperor,  by  the  name  of  Nero,  sent  his                               men to collect snow,   then  to  flavor it with                                fruit and/or honey. There is discussion as to                          whether Nero consumed Shaved Ice or Italian

Ice (ice   that   is   churned    with   natural   or                            artificial flavor to create a smoother mix),   but                        it   is   a    toss    up    as     to    which    method   they    used.  

Nero was not the only person of royalty to indulge in Shave(d) Ice; as in imperial Japan, Shaved Ice was a luxury treat, that ordinary people could not afford. From Japan, Shaved Ice was then brought to Hawaii, where it become a much  more   common         treat         with       the        people.

Hawaiian Shave Ice, or Ice Shave, as it is called on the big island, has been a significant dessert in Hawaii's culture, since the Japanese brought it along with them. In Hawai'i, Shave Ice is traditionally flavored by their natural fruits, such as: guava, lychee, kiwi, and mango. This treat can be finished off with ice cream, adzuki bean paste, or even sweetened condensed       milk,       which       locals  call  a   "snow  cap". 

Until the 1930s, shaved ice had been manually scraped from an ice block, using hand-held ice shavers. It  was  not  until  1933,  when  a  man, by  the name of Ernest Hansen,   set out to create an ice shaving machine. The following year, Hansen

With so many terms, such as: Snoball, Shave Ice, Hawaiian Shave Ice, Snowcones, etc., it is easy to think that all these ice-based treats are the same. As somewhat of an ice-based treat connoisseur, I am here to tell you the real truth: They are NOT all the same. A couple of the names belong in the same family, as they are derivatives of the main term, but the original terms are:

Snoball/Shaved Ice



achieved his goal by inventing the first motor-driven ice-shaving machine. Soon after, other inventors followed, with machines such as the   Summer   Snow    Ice  

Shaver,  Whirlwind  Ice Shaving Machine, SnoWizard Snoball Machine,  and the Swan Hand-Operated Shaved Ice Machine.


Summer Snow

Ice Shaver

Whirlwind Ice Shaving Machine

Swan Hand-Operated Shaved Ice Machine

Commonly known as: Snocones, Sno-Cones

Snowcones are now considered one of the world's most popular frozen treats.    From Singapore, where this dessert is referred to as,    "ais kacang" (Malay for ice beans),    to Mexico,     who calls Snowcones, "raspados" (Spanish for shaved),   to France,   where they    enjoy    granité    hawaïen     (rougly translated to Hawaiian Sorbet)    on    a    hot    day.



Okay, we get it. You probably are only on this page to find out if Snoballs and Snowcones are really different. Instead, all we    have    talked    about    is    the   history   of   the   two,   and   blah,   blah,  blah....   To   sum   it   up   for   you:

YES, Snoballs and Snowcones are DIFFERENT.

I  know  what  you  are  thinking:  "...but,  it  is  ice  and  flavor.  How is that not the same?" Don't  worry.  We'll explain.

Snoball/Shaved Ice


  • i​​

    • As I said for Snoballs/Shaved Ice, Styrofoam cups are cost efficient for businesses, and they also come in a variety of sizes--which is a quality that cone cups lack.

  • i​​

    • e.) Paper cone cups. Probably the most traditional of all the snowcone cups.

  • i​​

    • d.) Silicone cone cups. These are great for all those at-home snowcone makers! They are reusable, and there are versions that come with little strands; For those come-and-go snowcone fans.

the snow.png
  • Most commonly, Snoballs are made from round or square blocks of ice.

  • The ice blocks are not crushed, rather they are shaved
    by  Snoball machines.     This  makes  the  'snow'  that
    they produce soft and flully--or 'snow-like'.

  • With the snow being soft and delicate, the ice
    must be shaved to order.            The shaved ice
    cannot   be   stored   without   ruining   the

  • The    'snow-like'    texture  allows  the
    flavor to evenly distribute throughout
    the  product.     Although,  the  texture
    does not stop the Snoball  from melting,   so
    eat quick!

  • Along with the ice being different, the servings differ also. Snoballs   can  be   served  in  a  variety  of
    options. Here are a few:

    • a. ) Styrofoam  cups  are  among  the
      most    cost    efficient    for    serving
      Snoballs.   The  sizes can have a large
      range,  but  we  often  see  a standard
      Small (8 oz.),   Medium (16 oz.),    and
      Large (20 oz.).​

    • b.) Flower cups come in a variety of
      sizes     (4 oz., 6 oz., 8oz., and 12 oz.),
      and they come in an array of colors.
      From purple, to red, to blue, to green;
      It is no surprise they are a kid-favorite.
      Don't worry parents, the petals work as
      a drip pan, to attempt to keep the
      messes to a minimum (no promises

    • c.) Perhaps not as common as the first two
      are Pineaple cups. Who wouldn't want to cool
      off on a hot day by sipping a Snoball out of a real pineapple?

  • Snoballs are going to be the 
    more expensive option. With
    prices ranging from $1.50 to
    $10. At events such as the State
    Fair, we have seen snoballs served
    in pineapple cups sell for up to 

  • Snowcones        are        made         from       ice       cubes

  • The ice is crusher, rather than shaved. Crushing the ice makes the texture of the   'Snow'   coarse and crunchy.​

  • Due to the texture of the ice, snowcones can be made in advance. Refreezing is often not a problem for a snowcone--but that can vary from situation to situation. A melted snowcone will not refreeze to its original texture.

  • The snow of a snowcone does not hold flavor consistently through the product. The most flavor can be found at the bottom.

  • The 'snowcone' cup. I know nearly everyone has seen them before, whether you are a snowcone expert or not.     They are the cups that the ice cream man hands           you   when   you   order   one   of  their pre-made            snowcones.   Although, they aren't always served                         in those. 

  • Snowcones can range from $0.50 to $3.00. This cost accounts to the serving size, which is generally around 6 oz.-8oz.  The price may           also be influenced by the lack of flavors                that are offered, which is common in                     pre-made snowcones.


We hope that you learned the information that you were looking for!

(...And maybe some info that you weren't looking for, but now you know... Knowledge is power)

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