4801 Tchoipitoulas Street, New Orleans
Owner: Ashley Hansen
The snowball, one of the city’s iconic desserts, was practically invented at Hansen’s. Made of shaved-to-order ice, a Hansen’s snowball—which the family calls a Sno-Bliz—comes doused in housemade syrups that run an extraordinary gamut of flavors.
Ernest Hansen built one of the first electric ice-shaving machines, receiving a patent from the U.S. government for his creation in 1934. Along with his wife, Mary Hansen, he opened a small shop in 1939. Their granddaughter, Ashley Hansen, runs that shop today and carefully crafts the family syrup recipes, which include blueberry, satsuma, root beer, and the mysterious “cream of nectar.”
Like her forebears, Ashley Hansen opens her doors only during the summer. When Hansen’s is open, a queue forever spills out its door and snakes back through the stand’s small interior, following a painted yellow line known to regulars as the yellow brick road. Eventually that line leads to the counter, where a crew of young workers takes orders, shaves ice, douses cones, and cultivates a diverse community, one treat at a time.
The America's Classic award is given to restaurants with timeless appeal, each beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community. Establishments must have been in existence for at least ten years and be locally owned.