Later in the century, when inventions such as the automobile made ice even more readily available, theaters in Baltimore began selling snowballs during the summer months. Once again, the snowball had become trendy amongst the upper class (they would have been featured in Vogue, had it existed, as the new “hot” summer trend). Hand shavers were used to grind up ice and more flavorings were available than just quick kitchen-made confections. However, hand-shavers were quickly becoming outdated. In the 1870’s, six different patents were filed for electric ice-shavers and the snowball revolution began.
Journalist Michelle Grainow quotes an 80 year old Grace Phillips who reminisces about summer-life in East Baltimore in the 1920s: “We went to a place at Washington Street and Clifton Park, where the man sold snowballs for two and five cents out of a little store. The nickel cup was made with syrup he made himself, with real pieces of fruit, that he ladled out of big bowls—that came with marshmallow. The two-cents one was just the regular flavor out of bottles, and that was the one we had to get because we were kids without any money—if you had a nickel you were lucky. We’d come out of swimming at the park, and you’d have to stand in line for half an hour or so to get your snowball, and they had three or four men working behind the counter.” [read Michelle's whole article here]
Snowballs stayed popular when the economy bounced back during World War II; all available ice-cream was shipped to the troops fighting a hard war overseas.
Sure, flavored ice-confections are available in other places throughout the country and the world. For instance, the “snow cone,” which is a hard-packed flavored ice frozen in the shape of a cone is popular all over the country but especially the Midwest. In the south, especially New Orleans, they have “snowballs,” however I place the word in italics because this so-called snowball is a much more syrupy flavoring poured over finely shaved ice of a more flat and less crunchy texture (probably much more similar to the honey-flavored snow of ancient Rome). Italian ices and Slurpees are also quite popular, but very different from the simple crushed and flavored Baltimore favorite. In fact, one of the largest snowball supply distributors, Koldkiss, is Baltimore based.
Ethnocentric: having an attitude that one’s group or culture is better than others