by Erin Perkins
At first mention of Harold’s Cabin making a comeback, folks who remembered the original Westside grocery and restaurant wanted to know if the updated outfit would carry SnoBalls (or Snow Balls, depending on who you ask). Chef Justin Moore will lead the kitchen at the forthcoming Harold’s Cabin, with a menu focused on local produce and, yes, it will include the time-honored SnoBalls. Here, creative mind behind the project,John Schumacher, explains the frozen treat to Eater.
It was before electricity … he used a hand shaver to produce the product …
Do you have any idea why the original Harold’s Cabin sold SnoBalls?
Harold left his personal papers to the College of Charleston Library of Archives but we didn’t find any information in his papers as to why he decided specifically on SnoBalls.
He was an enterprising 15 year old, in 1929, who began his adventure by selling the SnoBalls on the corner of President and Congress Streets. It was before electricity was in the neighborhood so he used a hand shaver to produce the product (the electric SnoBall shaver wasn’t invented until 1933 in New Orleans). His dad and mom leased the building at 247 Congress St. in the mid-1930s and opened Harold’s Cabin. He helped his mom run the store and sell SnoBalls in the afternoon after he got out of high school.
Why were they so popular?
I think history defined SnoBall popularity in the South because of the typical summer temperatures and people were looking for a treat in the heat.
What exactly is a SnoBall?
SnoKones and SnoBalls are distinctly different. SnoKones use chunked ice chips and SnoBalls shaves the ice to a lighter, fluffier consistency, almost like snow. If you throw a handful of SnoBall powder in the air it melts before it hits the ground.
We’re also working on an adult version using Not Your Father’s Root Beer …
How will they be updated for today’s food-savvy Charleston?
Typically SnoBalls are served with flavored syrups. Chef Justin Moore has been working on our SnoBall syrup menu. We wanted to combine a Charleston foodie syrup approach and also use some of the herbs our resident farmer, Leslie Wade, will make available on our rooftop garden. Although its still a work in progress, some of the front runners include Pomegranate & Mint and Smoked Orange & Cilantro. We’re also working on an adult version using Not Your Father’s Root Beer and coming up with a PB & J flavor using peanut brittle made in house. We are getting our SnoBall machine from one of the two families who claim to have invented the electric machine SnoWizard.
He sold two sizes, a small for three cents and a large for five cents …
Do you have any stories about researching SnoBalls?
The funniest story I remember coming across was from a archived interview. Harold offered three flavors (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry). He sold two sizes, a small for three cents and a large for five cents. He reminds listeners that it was during the Depression so most people couldn’t afford the large for five cents, but there was one kid in the neighborhood who always ordered the large. His name was Fritz Hollings. They renamed the large SnoBall The Fritz.