Snowballs provide a tasty answer to summer heat


July 08, 1999|By Diane Mikulis | Diane Mikulis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

REMEMBER THOSE hot summer days when we were kids?

We had a few options for cooling down. An air-conditioned house wasn't one of them.

There was the backyard wading pool, the sprinkler and the public pool. We could sit in the shade or go to the movies.

But one of the best ways -- the one that cooled us from the inside out -- was eating snowballs.

Sure, ice cream was great. But nothing beat that sweet, syrupy, colorful cup of chipped ice for fighting the heat.

Only a few flavors were available, and it was always fun to get something different, like rainbow.

Now, with temperatures in the 90s or higher, snowballs are blooming. The number of flavors has increased exponentially and toppings have been added. They're still as refreshing as they

Neighbors used to be on these hot, hot days.

So last week, as the mercury climbed, my family climbed, too -- into the car in search of snowball stands.

My sons, Adam, 11, David, 6, and Patrick, nearly 2, were willing tasters during several outings. We didn't find a lot of stands in western Howard County, but those we did find are worth sampling.

In the heart of Clarksville, a red, white and blue snowball stand sits just outside Kendall Hardware on Route 108.

Katie LaGrave, 16, a junior at River Hill High School, works at the stand four days a week. She said busiest times are Fridays and Saturdays and "whenever it's hot."

Sometimes lines are long. "One time when it was raining, we had people in line with umbrellas," Katie said.

The stand serves more than 50 flavors, including several diet flavors. Our choices were root beer, a classic taste; cotton candy, extremely sweet; and strawberry, very good.

Christopher Decaro, 10, and brother Matthew, 7, of Ellicott City like coming to the stand whenever their father, Richard, shops at Kendall.

Christopher's favorite flavor is lemon-lime, and Matthew's is rainbow.

Renee Madden of Catonsville owns the stand. Madden sells college textbooks and has most of her summers free.

So operating a snowball stand fits perfectly into her lifestyle.

Madden said her stand is the only one around serving shaved ice, which is crushed so finely it's like snow.

"It holds more flavor," she said. "I chose it because it makes a better product."

The special ice-crushing machine is more expensive and comes from New Orleans where "snowballs are a religion," Madden said.

The most popular flavors are egg custard, cherry and skylite -- a light blueberry. The stand serves several unusual flavors: Winnie-the-Pooh, a combination of coconut and lemon; Spiderman, which is skylite with cherry; and Barney, which is grape with lemon.

Toppings such as chocolate, marshmallow, cream and Nerds candy are available.

The stand is at 12260 Route 108. Hours are noon to 9 p.m. daily.

Several miles away in Glenelg, a snowball stand is tucked in beside Westwood Unique Furnishings and Antiques.

Even before you take a mouthful of the sweet, chilly stuff, you start to feel cooler. The property is surrounded by shade trees that catch the slightest breeze and send it downward.

The stand is hand-painted with vines and flowers and shaded by a white trellis awning. Flowering shrubs and vines grow nearby.

Owner Ingrid Melber, who also owns the antiques shop, has included plenty of places to sit and relax. A table and chairs await under a canopy, and some of her antiques and furnishings are arranged on the grass.

The Larkin family of West Friendship enjoys coming here for snowballs. This time, Sean, 11, chose tutti-frutti and brother Evan, 9, had egg custard.

Their mother, Marianne, said she likes the pina colada flavor.

Thirty-two flavors are served, and the most popular are cherry, egg custard and skylite.

During another visit, we ran into the Simmons family of Glenelg. Tyler, 5, sampled the blue bubble gum. His twin sister, Peyton, had chocolate and dad Bill enjoyed kiwi.

Their cousin, Madeline Meyer, 8, of Los Angeles, liked her lime snowball.

Melber purchased the church-turned-antiques shop five years ago. A year later, she put in the snowball stand.

"I saw them all over Maryland and thought it would be nice to do," she said.

Melber hires local teen-agers to sell the snowballs. Many, like Triadelphia Road resident Danny White, walk or ride bicycles to work.

Glenwood resident Mandy Fowler has a car and drives to work at the stand.

"It's a lot of fun because you can make money and have a good time too," said Mandy, a senior at Glenelg High School.

Westwood is at 13554 Triadelphia Road, just east of the Route 32 underpass. The stand is open daily noon to 9 p.m.

No tour of snowball stands could be complete without a stop at the Snowball Stand in Woodstock.

At Route 99 and Woodstock Road, this is quite an enterprise. The "stand," owned by the Miller family, is a building the size of a small house, complete with a parking lot.

But the most impressive thing is the selection of flavors -- nearly 100.

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