Hansen’s opens for 81st snowball season

Madison Mcloughlin

Ashley+Hansen+pours+syrup+over+a+snowball.

Madison McLoughlin

Ashley Hansen pours Hansen’s famous syrup over a snowball on March 5, a few days after the official opening of snowball season. Hansen’s Snow-Bliz is the oldest snowball stand in New Orleans.

Madison Mcloughlin , Pack News

One hot New Orleans day back in 1934, Ernest Hansen noticed the children in his neighborhood running up to the man rolling a cart of ice down the street. The man drove his cart up and down the streets in the unforgiving sun, scraping ice by hand to cool down the residents.

“He took one look at that and said, ‘I think I can build something better,’” Ashley Hansen, Ernest’s granddaughter, said. 

Ernest, a machinist by trade, proceeded to build the first-ever electric ice shaving machine, according to Hansen and history.com. Ernest’s wife, Mary, put the machine to use, concocting flavorful syrups and then selling the snowballs off her front porch for two pennies a piece. 

“She said because it wasn’t touched by hand, it was a quality product,” Hansen said. “Her slogan became ‘there are no shortcuts to quality.’”

The slogan is still the motto of the business today—  the snowball stand Ernest and Mary purchased and opened in 1939. The stand has been open for 81 years and continues to operate in the same location.

Ashley Hansen started working in the stand when she was 12 years old. She took over the business when her grandparents passed away shortly after Hurricane Katrina. 

“It’s emotional, it’s love, it’s a product that I make every day and I think about my grandparents and the community that they serve and that we still serve,” she said.

That community has continued to grow into a multi-generational one. Many of the customers never get tired of visiting Hansen’s. 

Charlene Broud-Phillips has been eating Hansen’s snowballs since before she can even remember. 

“Forever. For as long as I’ve been alive,” Broud-Phillips said. “Honestly, I have older siblings, so I was a baby the first time I was here.”

A picture of Broud-Phillips and her two sons standing in front of Hansen’s before Katrina decorates the wall of the stand. She said it’s become a family tradition, even now when her sons are grown up.

Hansen is proud to serve the different generations of different families, following in the footsteps of her welcoming grandparents.

“New Orleans is a small beautiful sweet community,” Hansen said. “We have as many flavors as there are personalities and walks of life that come into the stand.”

One of Hansen’s favorite parts of operating the popular snowball hot-spot is seeing everyone come back year after year.

“It’s so exciting. It’s so fun because you see all the kids coming back, and they’re a foot taller and can say their first words or sometimes they can see over the counter for the first time,” she said.

Local customers and tourists alike make visiting Hansen’s during snowball season a must.

“People drive out to this snowball, even if they don’t live here, so it’s definitely special,” Brittany Carlisle said. 

Carlisle visits Hansen’s at least once a season with her cousin. 

Ashley Hansen still looks to her grandparents for inspiration as she carries on the family tradition.  

“They were beautiful people that loved everybody, and every snowball was made with love, and I feel like we still do that today,” she said. “They were not only my grandparents, but they were grandparents to half the city at one point at this corner on Bordeaux and Tchoupitoulas.”