07/07/06 — Hot weather profitable for shaved ice vendors

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Hot weather profitable for shaved ice vendors

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 7, 2006 1:48 PM


News-Argus Staff Writer

Those who might wonder what a sunset tastes like need only stop by one of the many Hawaiian shaved ice stands in parking lots citywide.

The creatively named frozen creations are a pleasant way to beat the heat, customers and makers say.

John Herring said eating a jumbo cup of chocolate with cherry and ice-cream flavored shaved ice treat is the perfect refreshment on a hot and humid day. And he should know -- he visits the stand off and on each year.

David Lee waits in line for his favorite flavor twice a week, he said. And while he usually enjoys a kiwi strawberry and watermelon combination, sometimes he's tempted to try unconventional flavors, too.

"Ice cream and grape," Lee said when asked for the weirdest flavor he has tried.

Herring said he isn't that bold. He doesn't steer away from the usual often.

Jean Sullivan said she doesn't either. Mrs. Sullivan, a regular customer at the Frost Bites Hawaiian Shaved Ice on Wayne Memorial Drive, said she sticks to her favorite, Snow Cream, whenever possible.

"They have the best," she said. "This is as close to the old-fashioned snow cream I guess we can get. It's finer, less ice. It's wonderful, smoother. It doesn't have the ice crunchies in it like the others."

Mrs. Sullivan said she used to get a jumbo size of plain ice, but ever since she tried snow cream earlier this year, she's been hooked. She comes to the stand at least once a day.

One of the creators of the unique flavors offered at the stands is Carl Barwick, father of owner, Lacey. And he doesn't just brew the flavors either, she said. He makes the shaved ice, too.

One of his creations, "The Hulk," is a combination of sour apple and sour grape flavors.

Hal Kilpatrick said he orders a new flavor "every day the sun shines."

"Every time I come here I get a different flavor," he said.

The weirdest combination he's ever gotten was the snow cream with some sour spray on it, he added.

"I probably wouldn't ever have it again," Kilpatrick said.

Jessica Smith, the "J" in S & J Hawaiian Shaved Ice on Cashwell Drive, said "Tiger's Blood" is the most popular flavor. It's a funny name, but everybody gets it, she said.

"It's a sort of berry flavor with a hint of coconut in it," Mrs. Smith said.

A lot of people also ask about passion fruit and guava, because they're not familiar with those flavors.

Another unfamiliar flavor that people are beginning to order in abundance is "yellow cake batter", which Mrs. Smith said brings back childhood memories of licking the beaters and the mixing bowl while Mom makes a cake.

Mrs. Smith and her husband, Scott, used to drive by the stand every day, she said, until one day it came up for sale.

"And here we are four years later," she said. "I don't know how many years it was here before we bought it."

They open their stand in April, and it starts getting real busy when school lets out, Mrs. Smith added.

"We do pretty good. It's hard work, long, late hours," she said, adding she and her husband both work full-time jobs. And when the stand closes at 9 p.m., the real work begins.

"We go home and clean out all the empty jugs and prepare them for the next day," Mrs. Smith said. "We might get to bed by midnight."

Still, it's a rewarding job, she added. Their stand has plenty of regular customers, some who come every day.

"We got to know them, and some families come and sit at the picnic table, and we come out and sit with them," she said.

And the women who run the stand for them while they're working have become like family, she said.

The newest Hawaiian Shaved Ice stand opened Friday on North William Street. Owner Ashley Overman said she had no idea it was going to do so well.

The most popular flavor at her stand is snow cream.

She gets her ice from the Barwicks, and she, too, mixes all the flavors at home from gallon jugs of concentrate and sugar water.

"It's a lot of work," she said. "But it's fun."