Food and Drink 

Snow cones, Slurpees and granita


In a word, wow. More than 33 feet of snow has fallen at mid-mountain so far and it’s only mid-season. That’s the average snowfall that usually hits Whistler Mountain in an entire ski season.

With so much snow and so little time to enjoy it, you’d better stop reading and get out there, pronto. Or take this along, and as you ride up the lifts guess-timate how many snow cones some entrepreneurial soul could get out of all that white stuff.

Snow cones were once a novelty item that could only be classified as a big deal on the great Canadian prairies. In the middle of the whoop-de-do of the Edmonton Exhibition or Calgary Stampede, kids would beg parents for a round blob of ice crystals packed into a trademark cardboardy “cone” and doused with some horrifyingly bright syrup bearing any number of ersatz flavours that only kids could find delicious.

They were served with a plastic spoon, but any child in her right mind knew the only method of attack was to slurp it up mouth-first, lips and any other parts of your body that came into contact invariably becoming stained bubble-gum blue or lime green, depending on what flavour you’d ordered. Butterscotch yellow made you look like you’d been severely bruised, lending you an aura of danger or belligerence.

Snow cones served in dainty little dessert-sized cardboard or plastic containers were definitely for parents and losers.

It was all new and exciting to us, because snow cones, or sno-cones, as they’re sometimes called, were from “the States”.

The first ones, apparently, were concocted by one Samuel Bert, who initially sold them at a state fair in Texas in 1919. Even then, snow cone was synonymous with fun.

They’re still big in places like meet-me-in-St.-Louis-Louis-meet-me-at-the-fair, New Orleans and Hawaii, sometimes under the name “shave ice.” While there are snow cone machines and shave ice machines (some of them still hand-cranked), the end results are pretty much the same thing: crystalline particles of ice soaked in flavoured syrups ranging from old-time classics like cherry and blueberry to new sophisticates like kiwi and blood orange.

Some of them now have a glob of ice cream (snow balls), marshmallows or bubble gum embedded in or around them.

Adult adventurers have been known to borrow their kids’ snow-cone making machines at home and add a good douse of Cointreau or Kahlua. Or the real innovators simply step outside, grab a cup of snow and pour away. Sounds like a golden opportunity for a Whistler go-getter to me…

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