Summer is for snowballs in Baltimore Maryland. Each year from Memorial Day through Labor Day Baltimore snowball stands serve as neighborhood oasis for people to get refreshed and cool off. The peak attendance hour is late afternoon through nightfall and arguably the most celebrated flavor is old-fashioned egg custard with marshmallow on top.
A popular place to grab this beloved treat is Summer Shack Snowballs next to Greenspring Station in Baltimore County. True to form this is not what you'd call a glamorous location. It is a seasonal shack next to an Exxon gas station. It's been spruced up in the last couple of years as ownership has changed hands. Picnic tables with umbrellas have been set up so you can sit and enjoy your snowball (fancy!) usually most of us eat them in the car with the air conditioning on blast.
See the woman in this picture taking a bite as soon as she's got it in-hand? That my friend is what you are supposed to do. Sometimes this place is jumping and there's a long line so when you've finally got your snowball in hand all bets are off.
For years there was never an awning over the wait area, customers were forced to cook in the sun as they waited for their snowball. This is probably why these shacks do a lot of business after dark. You'll find snowball shacks all over Baltimore County and they are usually near gas stations. In Baltimore City the set-up is often more modest, someone will set up a table outside their house and offer 6-8 flavors. The big stands in the county offer tons of flavors - too many in my opinion. Why? Well my main gripe is that this can lead to indecision (wait time) and my other observation is that there are really only three flavors that matter in Baltimore; Old Fashioned Egg Custard, Chocolate, and Skylite.
Its gotten a little out of hand to see over 100 flavors. Today a young woman in line ordered a half cake batter and half chocolate with marshallow in the middle and on top. Sheesh lady its not Starbucks! Don't get all fancy with the order keep in mind that kids are running the stand. Hardworking kids swamped with orders and the never ending grind of the shave ice machine.
Don't knock Baltimore Snowballs until you try them. They are often imitated but never duplicated. No, they are not Hawaiian Ice or a Snow-cone. The cultural significance of the Baltimore Snowball goes back to the Depression Era. The ingredients are humble and the cost is modest. If you happen to be lactose intolerant, than this is THE treat for you. Can't handle the sugar? There are many tasty sugar free flavors available nowadays. Snowballs for everyone! Here is a link to an authoritative article on the history of the Baltimore Snowball that I really enjoyed.
Summer is for snowballs in Baltimore Maryland and the best ones are found in Baltimore County. Summer Shack Snowballs is at the end of the Jones Falls Expressway on the corner of Falls and Joppa road. Grab a snowball and cool off like a charm city native.
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