Since the early 1900s, Americans have been cooling down in summertime heat with the icy treats known as snow cones or shaved ice.
In the Spa City, residents can choose from stands located in nearly every part of town — each offering a multitude of syrup combinations to allow for creations from the most basic cherry or grape, to the more exotic and experimental.
Trends across Hot Springs include the flavor favorite Tiger’s Blood, which is a blend featuring berry and a hint of coconut, and the Homemade Ice Cream selection, that gives a richer taste with the addition of both sweetened condensed and evaporated milks.
Though most stands close for the season when temperatures start to drop, there’s no shortage of opportunity to visit during August’s heat.
In the Lakeside Flea Market shopping center at 3684 Malvern Road, this stand has been owned by Suzanne and Brennan Herron for four years. They boast more than 80 flavors, plus nine sugar-free options. He said their biggest seller is Strawberry Cheesecake, and unique flavors include Purple People Eater, a mix of Blue Raspberry and Cherry, and Orchid Vanilla Magic.
Workers can turn any treat into a “Supreme,” by beginning with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the bottom, then adding shaved ice. Their cream syrup hides a few secret ingredients within the milk slurry, and he said it’s so tasty, some customers order it as the only flavor for their shaved ice. The Frigid Frog also makes party pack orders of 10 or more. Those interested can call 501-802-0788 to discuss options.
The owners provide treats at a number of charity events, and also help out during functions for schools and organizations within the community. Open through the end of August, hours are 3:30-8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 12:30-8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2-7 p.m. Sunday.
One of the more visible stands, because of its location at 3804 Central Ave. on the First Church of the Nazarene lawn, is Polar Freeze Shaved Ice, formerly known as Get Real Chill.
Pastor Jay Vestal oversees its operation, and he said the trailer got a new wrap design and underwent a name change during the first week of August.
They’ve been serving up cold concoctions for nearly eight years at that location, and use proceeds to benefit the church’s international missions and youth activities. Sales also support the Tuesday night meal offered to the needy at Faith Pointe Ministries, on Broadway Street.
Summertime hours are noon to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. When school starts, the stand will be open from 5-9 p.m. on weekdays, and noon to 9 p.m. on Saturdays.
Gourmet Sno-Balls, at 623 Carpenter Dam Road, is owned by Stephen and Amy Garrison.
They have 38 syrups for endless combinations, and three rotating sugar-free options. He said their most unique is the Sweet Tart flavor, and they also have the add-ons of a sour spray or caramel cream to tantalize people’s taste buds even further. This is the stand’s eighth year of business, and they’ll be open from 2-9 p.m. daily until Labor Day.
Bombers Shaved Ice, at 1428 Airport Road in the front lot of Hawg’s Pizza Pub, is co-owned by Jeff Scott and Tim Killian.
Their variety of flavors come from more than 60 base syrups, and Scott said his employees can make any treat sugar-free, by special request. This is the stand’s second season to be open, and customers keep them busiest in late evening. Scott explained that shaved ice is fluffy and fine, while snow cones are more like tiny ice pellets.
Bombers has service until 9 p.m., and accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
The newest addition to the area is New Orleans Snowballs, located at 250 Park Ave. in the Quarters Cafe parking lot.
Owners Danna and Paul Strozyk opened the stand in June, and she said they’re enjoying getting to know both residents and visitors.
They have more than 40 syrups, and their specialty is Stuffed Snowballs. For these, customers choose their sweetened ice flavor, which is layered on the bottom of a vanilla or chocolate ice cream scoop, then topped with sweetened cream, marshmallow fluff or chocolate syrup.
Hours are noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday in the summer, with later opening when school starts and through October.