Snowballs are traditionally made from a simple recipe: crushed ice, flavored syrup, and maybe a dollop of marshmallow fluff. (Either on top or in the center—we don’t judge.) No matter your preference, one might think there aren’t many ways to alter a snowball, save for adding a few more, or a few less, squirts of syrup.
But this summer, local stands are offering some wild takes on the classic treat.
Take longtime favorite Opie’s in Catonsville, for example. The roadside shack recently took Baltimore’s favorite snowball, the classic egg custard with marshmallow, and topped it with a sprinkle of Baltimore’s favorite spice, Old Bay.
Opie’s manager Chloe Corbitt—daughter of owner John Corbitt, more fondly known as the namesake Opie—says that she is testing the flavor out for the first time this summer. “I actually saw an idea on Facebook about it,” she says, “so then I tried it, and I enjoyed it. I thought it was delicious, and it just tasted like Maryland.”
The neighborhood spot is also known for its “Snowcream,” a four-layered alternating stack of crushed ice and soft-serve ice cream. Corbitt says customers order tons of wacky combinations, but one of the most popular is sour apple ice with vanilla ice cream and caramel topping.
“It’s just cool that everybody around here knows what a snowball is,” Corbitt says. “It’s just a Baltimore thing.”
Opie’s isn’t the only one innovating the glacial treat. Although it might make some purists cringe, we’ve rounded up some other stands that are mixing up the ice in their own, outside-of-the-box way this season:
The Bus Stop: While this neighborhood place on the grounds of Spring Meadow Farms in Upperco is perhaps best known for its extreme milkshakes, owners Brooke and Jeff Schnorr go all out on their snowballs, too. If you feel like going big for a snowball that bites back, you might be interested in the signature “Shark Week” snowball. Served in a fishbowl with a skylight or blueberry ice base—and a few pumps of shark attack syrup (a fruity red flavor, similar to Tiger’s Blood)—the treat is topped with gummy sharks and only available during Shark Week, which kicks off July 24 this year. They also have some special snowball flavors for Christmas in July, including eggnogg and butter beer. 15513 Hanover Pike, Upperco.
Emmorton Snowballs & Ice Cream: This Bel Air stalwart offers a frozen take on the classic candy bar with its Snickers snowball. Manager Jamie Covington says the treat has a chocolate crushed ice base topped with peanut butter sauce and caramel. They also have a special drink called a “Snowshake”—a mix of snowball and ice cream that apparently ends up tasting somewhere between a milkshake and a smoothie. One of the most popular flavors is the Butterbeer Snowshake. 101 E. Wheel Rd., Bel Air.
Ice Queens: Melanie Kabia, the self-described “mom-ager” of this snowball shop in Locust Point, says its most popular snowball is the strawberry shortcake. It’s a strawberry and strawberry cheesecake-flavored snowball mixed with hand dipped vanilla ice cream. The base gets topped with fresh cut strawberries, a New Orleans- style condensed sweet cream drizzle, whipped cream, graham cracker crumbles, and vanilla wafers. If that’s not enough to entice you, they also offer mocktail snowballs, including “Margarita Tea,” “Pina Colada Supreme,” and “Strawberry Daiquiri Royale.” 1648 E. Fort Ave.
Icy-Sno: Kay Austin—the owner, operator, and founder of this snowball stand on Belair Road, better known to regulars as “Aunt Kay”—has some custom mixes that are meant to be edible odes to your favorite pop culture figures. The fan-favorite Bob Marley snowball blends strawberry, lime, and mango to mimic the Jamaican flag. And the Winnie the Pooh snowball mixes strawberry, vanilla, and sometimes marshmallow to taste just as soft and cuddly as the classic cartoon looks. 7542 Belair Rd., Nottingham.
One Sweet Moment: This Hamilton mainstay recently added a new, rare item to its repertoire. Technically it’s not a snowball, but it’s inspired by one. Noticing the high demand for egg custard—a best seller, according to part-owner Lindsey Carlo—OSM decided to create its own egg custard soft-serve. It’s a relatively thicker ice cream due to its high fat content, and it’s churned in house since it couldn’t be found anywhere else. You could even try it on top of an egg custard snowball to double the creamy flavor while blending the textures. 2914 Hamilton Ave.
Quality Snowballs: The spot to savor some of the wildest snowballs around is this shipping container-turned-snowball stand on the Avenue in Hampden. “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing,” says owner Chad Gauss, also the chef behind The Food Market across the street. One of Quality’s most popular selections is the “Half Baked Blondie,” a butterscotch snowball with real half-baked blondie trimmings from its sister-restaurant topped with toasted marshmallow, caramel, and chocolate. Another favorite is the fried ice cream snowball, which tops vanilla ice with a scoop of actual fried ice cream. Pro tip: try your best to order off of the secret menu, which offers hidden inventions made by employees. 1014 W. 36th St.
Snoasis: When the temperatures rise up into the eighties or above, customers go mad for Snoasis’ wine cooler and strawberry daiquiri-flavored snowballs, according to owner Tom Hays. (To clarify, these typically tipsy treats are non-alcoholic at the family-friendly Cockeysville stand.) Snoasis also offers two kinds of soft-serve and snowball mixtures. First is the “Snowstorm,” a snowball of any flavor sandwiched between vanilla soft-serve ice cream on the top and bottom. The other is the “Mudslide,” which is essentially the same, but with chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla. 35-79 Parks Ave. Cockeysville.