In the heat of summer, there's nothing quite like an icy, tasty treat. Some prefer ice cream, but when it's really hot outside, you just can't beat a good old-fashioned snow cone!

Snow cones — also called snow balls in some parts of the United States — are cool treats made with shaved ice and flavored syrups and served in a paper cone or cup. Snow cones are popular treats at amusement parks, sporting events, and beaches.

When snow cones were first invented is a bit of a mystery. Some trace the history of the snow cone back to the 1850s when blocks of ice began to be sold. Ice wagons would transport huge blocks of ice from factories to businesses.

Along the way, children would approach the wagons, asking for ice shavings. It wasn't long before parents began making flavored syrups to add to the ice shavings their children brought home.

Others believe the first snow cones were created in 1919 by Samuel Bert at the State Fair of Texas. Bert is known to have invented an ice-crushing machine in 1920, too.

Still others point to Ernest Hansen from New Orleans, who patented the first block-style ice shaving machine in 1934. It appears, though, that others had already come up with similar ideas years earlier.

At first, hand shavers were used to shave ice for snow cones. By the 1890s, however, many people had developed ideas for electric ice shaving machines.

Hansen's ice shaver was known for producing ice that had the consistency of snow, unlike other ice shavers that produced rough and crunchy ice. Today, snow cone machines can be purchased in stores and online.

One of the earliest flavors of syrups parents would make was egg custard. Egg custard was easy to make, because it was just made of eggs, vanilla, and sugar.

Before long, though, all sorts of flavors became popular. Today, some of the most popular flavors of snow cones include banana, watermelon, pineapple, blue raspberry, lime, grape, blueberry, cherry, and coconut. One thing all these flavored syrups tend to have in common is that they come in bright colors!

Pre-made snow cone syrups can be purchased in stores and online, too. However, many people prefer to make their own homemade syrups using Kool-Aid® or fruit juices.

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