Dig Baton Rouge

The Big Freeze

By Joshua Jackson & Matt Starlight

The snoball, in essence, is a simple dessert. A little shaved ice, covered in flavored syrup and neatly placed in a cup serves as a staple for the summer season. Although there are multiple stands in the LSU area, by going the extra mile, one snoball company has cornered the sweet market.

Found scattered across the city in small blue shacks, LSU students and residents of neighboring towns flock to SnoMan Snoballs when the weather heats up—so many that you can see long lines leading at the window if you pass by on a warm Saturday afternoon.

SnoMan Snoballs opened its first stand at on Burbank Drive in 2008 under owner Jeffrey Gresse, followed by a second location on Perkins Road in 2013. The expansion has only boosted business, as more citizens and LSU students frequent both stands.

“We’re about to expand to our third location on Tiger Bend,” said Gresse. “It’s actually a bigger location than our other two. We’re going to try to offer a few more things at that one—try to have a nice, outdoor sitting area to where people can feel like they can come and hang out; there’s a lot more land over there.”

The most important part of any snoball stand is a variety of flavors, and SnoMan knows it. They’ve got more than 50 flavors, including classics like cherry, pink lemonade, and rainbow, along with a few you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else, such as Silver Fox, Strawberry Cheesecake, and their signature SnoMan’s Cream.

“We also make a lot of our own combinations of flavors,” said Gresse. “We carry a whole line of cheesecake flavors… We carry a bunch of cream flavors, and we have a very popular flavor that we actually came up with called SnoMan’s Cream; it tastes like a petit four cake.”

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SnoMan focuses their efforts not only on the flavors, but on the ice as well and sugar water as well.

“We have a very soft ice that other places might not have,” said Gresse. “We freeze it at high temperatures, and it’s a product that we make in house. We make our own sugar water instead of buying simple sugar. A lot of people can buy premade sugar water from a flavor company; we use a more top-end flavor. We use a high end concentrate that’s more expensive than most that gives our flavors a distinct taste.”

Gresse said he believes it’s the variety, the quality of the product, and the business’ stability that has made it so popular with patrons.

“Our hours. Our product. No matter the weather, we’re open,” Gresse said. “The reason that a lot of people come to our business versus other snoball stands is that we are so consistent… Mother’s day we were open, Easter we were open, so we try to stay open and be consistent all the way around. Even though on rainy days we might not make good money or we might not have a lot going on, a lot of people tell us, ‘Man, we don’t even stop at these other snoball stands because we know that when we get to y’all, y’all are going to be open.’”

Employee Nick Day has been with SnoMan since last June. He said the most popular flavor they sell is the unstuffed polar punch snoball. However, he notices more people are coming to get stuffed snoballs as well as more people coming in general. Day credits much of the rising success of SnoMan to its creator, saying Gresse does a lot of advertising for the business and offers many deals and specials to attract even more attention.

Customer Mark Johns said he’s been coming to SnoMan every year since he moved to Baton Rouge in 2011. Feeling welcomed by the employees encourages him to keep bringing his sweet tooth.

“I’ve never been to a snoball stand where the workers truly look like they enjoy what they do,” Johns said. “It’s not the most exciting or important work, but the way they act, you can tell they’re having fun, and that’s really important in getting someone to come back.”

While SnoMan is located in the LSU area, Gresse said he’s heard reports of people coming from Denham Springs and Geismar to get one of their snoballs and asking when a SnoMan location is coming to their city.

“We just want to show what a real snoball is and how the snoball business should really be done,” Gresse said.

Day after day, from noon to 8 p.m., SnoMan Snoballs opens its windows to provide a cool treat to the citizens of this city. Through its consistency in hours and variety in flavors, the stand has become a meeting place for friends, a treat for families, and a dominant force in the Baton Rouge snoball scene.
And with a third location on the way, it’s about to be easier than ever to get your hands on a SnoMan Snoball to combat the summer heat.

“Soft ice and a lot of juice are what people expect from us,” Gresse said, “and it’s what we give to them.”

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