road trip: ponchatoula, louisiana, and a little bit of joy in a cup

thirsty thursday
notes from maggie's farm

A steady drizzle fell on Ponchatoula, Louisiana the day I visited the quaint small town known as the Strawberry Capital of the World, (mostly by the folks of Ponchatoula, Louisiana) and littered with charming antique shops, a converted train station with trains roaring past at all times of day and night, raucous daiquiri spots, a few small cafes, a healthy helping of joie de vivre, and for a thirsty traveler, the perfect antidote:  A snoball stand!

courtesy of
Ponchatoula is the home of the annual Strawberry Festival, which has drawn millions of visitors from it's first, in 1972, to the the 40th, for which the town was in full-on preparation mode the afternoon upon which I was its visitor.  Read more about the colorful history of the festival, here.

In all of my nostalgic reminiscing about the food that still held me in it's sway some 15 years after I departed Louisiana, the snoball had slipped from the forefront until that day, when a thirst grabbed hold of me that simply wouldn't be quenched with one more iced coffee-to-go. In a quest for the perfect thing, I passed just what the doc ordered.  BINGO!  It was a SNOBALL stand. I pulled a James Rockford-esque u-turn and headed back for a taste of my past.

images courtesy of
Folks down in these parts, Ponchatoula, and it's big sister 50 miles away, New Orleans, and all points in between, take the snoball seriously, see Snowball Stands Are a Way of Life in Rural Louisiana,  Times Picayune newspaper, (there is no consensus among locals over the correct spelling, s-n-o-b-a-l-l and s-n-o-w-b-a-l-l are used interchangeably).  

A cup full of shaved ice (Shaved is a must. Crushed ice will not do.) is drenched with one, or two, or five, of the sweetest of seemingly hundreds of flavored syrups, and that is only the beginning. You can have any combination of flavors, sizes, and concoctions your mind can dream up, including, but not limited to, snoballs with ice cream centers, and the regionally-unique delicacy, a snoball topped with condensed milk.  I chose to go somewhat simply--the house special, strawberry, with the consumer favorite, coconut splash. 

From the first sip, to the last tiny bit of icy crunch, I was transported to a time past. I drove down country lanes which years before had entertained so many similar jaunts-off-the-beaten path, accompanied by my styrofoam cup full of memory, and that luscious, fruity-sweet syrup lasted the entire two-hour tour.  

Admittedly, most stands use syrups that are loaded with artificial colorings and flavorings, and though most are added to a simple syrup, high fructose corn syrup is not foreign to many a snoball. Occasionally, you might find yourself lucky enough to happen upon a syrup made with all natural ingredients.  The strawberry syrup on my snoball was made from the sweetest Louisiana strawberries.  And that's the way I like to duplicate this special treat at home. With all natural, organically grown ingredients. A few links to help bring that joy-in-a-cup to your house: 
Making Natural Syrups by Mary Tutwiler, for Times-Picayune
How to Make Homemade Shaved Ice
Strawberry Syrup
Traditional Snoball Syrup
Nectar Syrup
and for the history of it all....
In New Orleans, Snowballs Are a Really Big Deal
Longtime Tchoupitoulas Street Snowball Stand is as Good as New

and, last, but certainly not least, good food, good music, and good times at the 
The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival
April 13th,14th, & 15th, 2012


  1. It's 7am and I swear you just got me craving a strawberry snoball thanks to your beautiful pics (as usual). I can't imagine anyone not wanting to stop in this town just by your story alone. You would make a great food tour guide.

    1. oooooh I would love to be a food tour guide!! That might be loads of fun!

  2. YUM!! Looks good. What a perfect treat. So glad you are back:)

  3. Dang! Now I want a snoball. Thanks :-( ...... :-)

    1. I think I want another one, too! lol Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I think you should take us on a tour of your favorite Louisiana food spots!

    1. That sounds like such great fun! Seriously! Let's get our heads together and plan a road trip!

  5. Strawberry captial of the world! COOL! I love learning all these kind of tidbits from you. I have never had a snowcone..I am seriously missing out I see. Now, I will want one....

    1. Now that I think of it, snoball's may be the only thing I DIDn't see in Now I'm going to be on a mission to find a snoball in the city for you. You must have one! lol


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