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Some people's earliest childhood memories revolve around food, and one of the best treats on a hot summer day was a snow cone. A vendor would grind solid blocks of ice into a grainy slush, then scoop the ice into a paper cone. The final touch was the liberal pouring of a flavored syrup, often in bright colors. The most popular kid on the block during the summer owned his or her own snow cone maker, which uses a manual crank to produce the slush.
A snow cone maker is primarily a single-purpose machine that uses an electric motor and grinder blade to crush ice. Sometimes, standard ice cubes are fed into the machine through a curved feeder, much like a meat grinder. Other models use solid blocks of ice, which are pressed into the grinding mechanism from above. The crushed ice is stored either in a glass bin below the grinder or in insulated tubs. A metal scoop is then used to form the perfectly round top of a traditional snow cone.
This machine has been a part of the frozen novelty family for decades. Snow cone concession stands are often seen at circuses, county fairs, beaches, and other public attractions. In many places, the traditional flavors have been augmented with more exotic varieties and local favorites. Vendors have also been known to pour their syrups in artistic designs. Investing in a snow cone maker or its cousin, the Hawaiian ice shaver, has proven to be a worthwhile venture for certain small business owners.
A snow cone maker can be an elaborate commercial machine, but it can also be a product suitable for small children to operate. Snow cone kits are often sold in department stores, in either the toy or small appliance department. They usually feature a manually-powered ice grinder, a supply of paper cones, a serving scooper, and several small bottles of flavored syrups. Snow cone syrups are also available through mail order or online through a number of "fun food" suppliers. Coffee flavoring syrups can also be used on a snow cone to create a refreshing frozen treat.
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