The 10 Best Snow Cone Makers
10. Great Northern Popcorn Company
9. Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A
8. Cuisinart SCM-10
7. Victorio Time for Treats Avalanche
6. Rival Frozen Delights
5. Nostalgia SCM502 Vintage
4. WyzWorks Commercial
3. Hawaiian Shaved Ice S700
2. Zeny Electric
1. Little Snowie 2
A Simple Beast To Chew Your Ice
If you've ever tossed a ball up through the moving blades of a ceiling fan, you'll have a pretty clear understanding of how a snow cone machine works, and how you can affect its output. Trust me; it's a more popular past time than you might think.
Very basically, you feed ice through a hopper and press it down into a set of moving blades where it gets crushed and deposited out the other side into a kind of collection bowl.
Some simpler household machines don't have anything with which you can press the ice into the blades, and that's going to limit the variety of your ice texture.
Remember: finer ice shavings pack more tightly and absorb more of your flavoring syrup.
Back to the ball and the fan. Since the fan's blades move at a constant rate, if you throw the ball upward with great force, the ball will likely either hit a blade directly and bounce back, or it will flow through one of the gaps between the fan blades, hit the ceiling and come back down.
However, if you throw the ball up with less force, you will increase its hang time in the vicinity of the blades, and one of the blades will catch it just right to send it flying across the room.
Likewise, if you push the ice through the blades of your crusher with greater force, the pieces that come out the other end will be bigger, since there's a greater chance they'll get through with less contact from the blades.
If you apply little to no pressure, the ice will hit the blades more often as it makes its way along the slow and steady path to your belly, resulting in finer ice shavings and a juicier snow cone.
A Slew Of Snow Makers
We touched for a moment there on the ways that a snow cone maker's design might limit your ability to control the consistency of your shaved ice.
Some of the machines in our top five have very convenient press handles that give you more control over that consistency, for the harder you push your ice through the maker, the coarser it will come out.
In addition to that difference, something you might want to consider while mulling the benefits of one machine over another, is the amount of shaved ice you actually need.
If you're making a couple of snow cones at a time for a few kids who never finish anything you feed them, you might not need a machine that crushes 440 lbs. of ice per hour.
However, if you're in need of that kind of capacity, it's right up there among our finer machines.
All of the units available here can deliver amazing results and give you tasty, refreshing treats (so much of a snow cone is in the flavor, after all). The question of quantity is the most important one for you to answer.
After that, you can consider little features like the inclusion of a press, or, if you're designing your kitchen around it, the attractiveness of the unit.
Flavor Meets Ice
It's pretty well-accepted that Samuel Bert invented the first ice crushing machine in 1919, and debuted it that year at the Texas State Fair. The origin of the flavored snow cone itself, though, is more slippery. Get it? Ice? Slippery? Okay; moving on.
Those snow cones may have been among the first sold from a mechanical device, but evidence shows that balls of shaved ice were consumed with flavored toppings some point up to 70 years before Bert's invention.
From the right angle on the main approach to the Lincoln Tunnel leading into New York City from the New Jersey side, you can see the remnants of a small cave cut high into the rock above the tunnel.
Before the industrial revolution made the manufacture of ice a possibility, large blocks and quantities of ice were often brought in from the sea and stored in caves like the one above the tunnel.
The mid-Atlantic and southern regions of the US eastern seaboard were the best places to market this ice since the climate in those regions was much warmer. Along the journey south, ice transporters in Baltimore, MD and other cities had small crowds of children descend upon them asking for shavings from the ice blocks.
These kids brought the ice shavings home, and their mothers would whip up a simple egg custard from eggs, sugar, and vanilla–the first snow cone topping.
I mention Baltimore because the theaters in that city have some of the earliest evidence of the confection's popularity: signs advising theater patrons to finish their "snowballs" before returning to the theater for the second act.
Once Bert's invention and similar patents made larger scale commercial production of the snow cone possible, the industry was off and running.