|The quest for the perfect summer snowball|
Occupation: Owner, Snoman Snoballs
Hometown: New Orleans
Many years later, as he faced the fiery line of faces, the denizens slicked with summer sweat, some in flip-flops, others in pressed school uniforms, still others in bright tank tops or dress shirts gone dewy, the sleeves rolled up, Jeff Gresse would remember the first time he tasted sweet ice.
“I grew up in New Orleans,” he says. “There were snowball stands everywhere. It was a tradition.”
When Gresse moved to Baton Rouge a few years back, he longed for a perfect snowball.
Too many snowball stands in Baton Rouge were taking stacks of damp dollars for mounds of ice too chunky to be called snow, he says.
And the syrup—mostly, it was pale and watery. The bubblegum flavor didn't taste like bubble gum. The wedding cake taste came from a wedding that got washed away in a storm.
Gresse bet on his childhood and opened Snoman Snoballs near the intersection of Burbank and Gardere in 2008.
When you've got skeins of memories at stake, you get serious.
You strive for slivers of silvery, stilled water that can really be called snow. Snow so powdery you could ski over it.
“The ice,” he says, “has to be fine.”
You search for a syrup that will sock a sucker between the eyes, bring a pucker, even, if that's what they want.
If you build a snoball stand, they will come.
If you pledge your heart and actually manage to bring a beautiful memory back to life, well, then they will come. They will park their cars on one of the busiest streets in town, and they will line up by the dozens.
They will come from the stateliest of blocks, where the grass is thick felt. They will come from low-rent, hardscrabble districts, waiting to paint their tongues a matching neon green, orange, yellow, blue—all the colors and sweetness of being a child again.
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