Imperial Woodpecker Brings Big Easy Sno-Balls to New York City


What is it? The curly-haired fellow seems to be asking.

You’ve probably had a sno-cone before: a wad of coarsely crushed ice poured into a paper cone and shaped into a dome, after which a choice of eight or so syrups (or a combination) are squirted on top.

Tiger Blood on the right, Blueberry on the left, but only poured over half, to show what the uncolored “sno” looks like

So how does a Sno-Ball differ? Well, it’s not in the shape of a ball, for one thing. The ice is shaved to order, much, much finer than the ice used in a sno-cone. It’s heaped up in a Chinese cardboard carryout container (two sizes, $4 and $8), and before the syrup is applied, it looks and feels for all the world like real snow. It deserves to be called synthetic snow.

The choice of syrups is vastly more diverse, too. Whereas sno-cones are usually made with awful-tasting artificial fruit flavors in garish colors, some of the Sno-Ball syrups are more subtly flavored, and there are a lot more of them.

“This is really sweet,” a dad grimaced as he tasted a Sno-Ball and handed it to his four-year-old. “Yeah,” said the kid enthusiastically.

This frozen treat is said to have originated in New Orleans, and the two that I tried — Tiger Blood and Blueberry — were really good, in an over-the-top sort of way. We’re not looking for flavors found in nature here.

One problem, though: extreme brain freeze.

Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls
145 Seventh Avenue South

The list of synthetic flavors is awe-inspiring.

The crew hard at work, shaving and sluicing