of crop keep snowballs coming
By EVA BARKOFF
Shirley Robert, owner and operator of Ro-Bear's Snoballs on Jefferson
Highway in Harahan, has been in business 33 years. Here she reaches
for blueberry syrup to flavor a snoball. |
It's just after 1:30 on a recent Monday afternoon
and a man tapped on the tiny window of the bright pink building
to get the attention of Shirley Robert. "I'll have one for $1.25,"
the man said, sweat pouring down the side of his face. "Today I'll
have ice cream with chocolate syrup." Robert covers vanilla ice
cream with rich, brown syrup and hands it to the man, who said,
"Miss Shirley, don't ever leave here. I won't go to anyone else
for a snowball or ice cream. You have the best of everything."
For 33 years, Robert has operated Ro-Bear’s, 6869 Jefferson
Highway, Harahan. “I have been at this since I was 40 and
I love it,” said Robert, 73, while pouring nectar supreme
over softly shaved ice for the next customer. “If I retired,
I don’t know what I would do with myself. I think I’d
get to lazy. So why retire? I have good health and can run this
place on my own."
Robert, the mother of six, has more than 50 flavors on hand, all
of which she makes herself. She sells a variety of other cool, sweet
treats including ice cream, malts and sodas—and hot tamales.
“I probably sell more chocolate, nectar supreme and
strawberry snowballs than any other kind,” Robert said.
“And honey, I have the best chocolate in the world—I
don’t care what anyone says.
“I open this place in March and close on Oct. 30. I
rest and travel a bit those four months I’m closed but
I’m always ready to get back to work. I love what I
do because of the people. And I just love to work.”
Steven Bel has been a fixture at Sal’s Snoballs since
he was 8 years old. “I used to help sweep and pick up
trash around the stand when I was a little kid,” Bel
said. “When I got a little older, I helped fill the
bottles with the different snowball flavors. I did a little
bit of everything.”
And for the past seven years, Bel has owned Sal’s, a
fixture in Old Metairie at the corner of Metairie Road and
Helois Avenue since 1960. Sal’s is named for the snowball
stand’s original owner, Salvator Tolluto. Bel, 32, said
he opens the stand the first week of February and closes around
the third week of October.
Steven Bel, owner of Sal's Snoballs at the corner of Metairie
Road and Helios Avenue, holds one of the blocks of ice that
is used to make the snoballs. He uses more than 1,100 pounds
of ice in a day.
more than 50 different flavors at Sal’s are made on
the premises daily by Bel. He said the most popular flavors
are the Joker and chocolate.
"The Joker is a mixture of all the berry flavors," Bel said.
"And the chocolate has always been a popular flavor. Cypress
logs dot the front of the area around the stand, a site familiar
to Sal's regular customers. "There was an old cypress tree
behind the stand that had to be taken down," Bel said. "Rather
than just grinding the stumps away, Mr. Sal thought he could
use the logs around the snowball stand for people to sit on
while enjoying their snowballs. Having a snowball while sitting
atop one of these logs is a tradition around here and is part
of the history of Sal's."
With every customer that comes to the window, the same greeting
can be heard over and over again. “Welcome to Droopy’s,”
says owner Lana Guercio. “What can I get you today,
The bright blue building at 6560 Jefferson Highway in Harahan
has been home away from home for Guercio, her husband Johnny,
and their son, Jay, for the past seven years. “We’re
here every day from March 1 to Oct. 31,” Johnny Guercio
said. “And for those eight months, we spend as much
time here as we do at home, maybe more.” One menu item
Droopy’s is famous for is its stuffed snowball.
Johnny Guercio, left, Jay "Droopy" Guercio and Lana Guercio
of Droopy's Sno-Balls on Jefferson Highway in Harahan. Jay
holds the Droopy flavor of snowball syrup, which was named
stuffed snowball is whatever flavor snowball you want, then whatever
flavor ice cream you want and then a little more snowball,”
Johnny Guercio said. “It’s a very popular combination.”
Other favorites are strawberry and several of the cream flavors
including one called “Droopy’s.” “This is
our own special flavor and we’re proud of it,” Johnny
Guercio said, adding the name Droopy’s came from a nickname
penned by the friends of Jay Guercio. “I can’t tell
you how much the people who come here mean to us,” Lana Guercio
said. “Our customers are always so nice; they make coming
to work a pleasure.”
Barkoff, Eva. "Cream of crop keep snowballs coming." Kenner Picayune.
July 5, 1998. 1D1, 2D1.
stand is Kenner fixture
By CHRISTINE BORDELON
Whether it’s finely shaved
ice snowballs, nachos and cheese, or pig’s lips, C&J’s
Snowballs stocks what it takes to satisfy the appetites of
its south Kenner neighbors.
In the 19 years since Josephine Smith opened C&J’s
at Hanson Street and Kenner Avenue next door to her home,
the stand has become a fixture in the neighborhood for youngsters
and seniors alike.
“We come here every day,” said Cora Dillworth
of Kenner who brings her son, Joshua, 4, to get a snack in
the afternoon. “The people are friendly….It’s
more like family here. Some snowball stands are like, ‘What
do you want?’ But here, they care about you.
said she opened her business to give her sons, Christopher
and Juvernia, something to do in the summer while she worked
in the post office. While it’s named after them, Josephine
Smith has been the driving force behind the business.
From the beginning, she’s made her own snowball flavors
by boiling down the sugar with water and adding the extracts.
Her top-selling flavor, ice cream, beckons customers from
across the Mississippi River, she said. And while her recipe
is a secret, she did divulge that this flavor is made in a
way similar to the way homemade vanilla ice cream is made.
Another top-selling flavor is chocolate. Smith said her version
has condensed and canned milk with Hershey’s chocolate
syrup and chocolate extract to give it that “creamy
Following in her sons’ footsteps, her daughter Vivian,
a recent high school graduate, has been working in the business.
She assists at night and on weekends and even concocted the
new African orange flavor this year.
While C&J’s opened with just snowballs, its menu
today includes ice cream, candy, snack items such as chips
and popcorn, smoothies, pickles, pigs’ lips and soft
drinks. A unique aspect of C&J’s is that it stays
open all year.
Josephine Smith, owner of C&J's Snowballs in Kenner, keeps an
eye out for customers as she refills some of the colorful bottle
[sic] of flavored snowball syrup.
buy snowballs year-round,” Smith said. “Snowballs are
not in demand as much in the winter, but if the weather is warm,
people buy ‘em.” To increase sales at the stand in the
winter, Smith added hot dogs, chili, and nachos and cheese. Customers
can order any combination of these items and even put chili and
cheese on Fritos. This pseudo-lunch fair has attracted employees
from the nearby New Orleans International Airport.
Mostly, C&J’s attracts the neighbors who wait patiently
to order their favorite menu item as an occasional train or plane
goes by. Smith said working in the stand has enabled her to meet
people and receive compliments on the success of her flavors. While
she has retired from the post office, she doesn’t plan on
giving up this job any time soon.
“It’s hard work, but I enjoy doing it.”
Christine. "Snowball stand is Kenner fixture." Kenner Picayune.
July 5, 1998. 1D1, 2D1.