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Snow Cones vs. Shaved Ice

August 31, 2017

As summer winds down, here’s a look at the subtleties that separate two favorite treats of the season.
Shaved Ice vs. Snow Cone
Pretty much everywhere you go in the United States in the summer, it’s going to be hot. Fortunately, there are some coping mechanisms. Some are more appetizing than others: such as the wide variety of cold, sugary treats that help people cool down. There’s popsicles, ice cream, frozen yogurt, of course, as well as snow cones and shaved ice. Both of those usually consist of just two simple and inexpensive ingredients: ice and sticky-sweet syrup. You might have one or the other where you live, or, if you’re lucky, both. So what’s the difference between a snow cone and shaved ice anyway?
The major difference is the texture of the ice. The frozen stuff must be of a certain consistency to both hold and absorb all the syrup for as long as possible. If it wasn’t, it would slide right off into the bottom of the cup or paper cone, leaving just a “beverage” of syrup iced with tiny, too-smooth ice cubes. The ice in snow cones (or “sno-cones,” “SnoCones,” or “snowcones”) is generally made from ice cubes ground into tiny, jagged chunks. The syrup hangs around, but as the ice in the snow cone slowly melts and loses its shape, that flavored syrup moves its way on down and settles in the bottom of the paper cone.
That’s one other difference right there: snow cones come in paper cones. Otherwise they’d be called snow cups. And that would be confusing, because shaved ice is usually served in cups.
The ice is completely different in shaved ice, or “Hawaiian shaved ice” as its commonly sold. Rather than being ground, it’s carefully and finely shaved off a large block of ice. That ice is naturally flaky, super-fine, dusty, and fluffy. It closely mimics the consistency of real snow—more so than the ice in the thing actually called a “snow cone.”
The syrup is also delivered differently. On a snow cone, it’s drizzled; on shaved ice, it’s poured directly over the top.

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