Four years ago, NPR introduced me to a New Orleans institution, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz. While on vacation, driving around in the rental car and listening to NPR, a story came on about this snow ball haven and we decided to try and seek the place out while we were in town.
A few days later, we found it and hopped into the relatively short line to sample the house special, a flavor called “cream of nectar.” We chatted with locals in line and I’ve since learned the gentleman who waited on us, the founders’ son, is a local judge. When he learned we were from Chicago he told us his daughter had gone to college in Chicago.
I still have the plastic cup my Sno-Bliz came in sitting on my desk here at work. I use it to hold pens and pencils where I look at it every day. It reminds me of that day in May, and all the other days I’ve spent down in New Orleans, hanging out among the locals, soaking up the color and flavor of these off-the-beaten-track places.
I bring this up because NPR reminded me of Hansen’s Sno-Bliz again when they featured a post-Katrina update on the family business on yesterday’s Morning Edition program. (You can hear the story here.) Founders Ernest and Mary Hansen passed away shortly after the hurricane and the storefront suffered some damage, but their grandaughter is carrying on the tradition. You can read about her effort to carry on her grandparents’ legacy, mixing up the secret syrup recipes herself, or listen to the original NPR broadcast I heard back in 2002 while tooling along Lake Pontchartrain.
I look forward to getting back to New Orleans sometime soon and revisiting all the non-touristy local businesses, like Hansen’s Sno-Bliz and Octavia Books, that have become my favorite must-visit stops along the way.