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Reflections On The Snow Cone

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Reflections On The Snow Cone

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Reflections On The Snow Cone

Reflections On The Snow Cone

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Cookbook author Nancy Baggett reflects on a summer staple — the snowball (aka snow cone).

NANCY BAGGETT: The Maryland is in full swelter now, with the air as hot as a blast from an open oven and hanging heavier than a wet beach towel

ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

Cookbook author and commentator Nancy Baggett has been pondering how to beat the heat.

BAGGETT: My solution is to heed the call of my personal sirens, the syrups, and stop in at a Snowball stand. I always get giddy seeing the kaleidoscope of neon-colored bottles. Perhaps it's just the heat waves shimmering off the parking lot and that pulsing thrumming of overheated cicadas.

Maybe I'll try one of the fanciful, new-age flavors like Titanic of Chiller or the refreshing-looking, sea-green Tidal Wave, or how about the dessert and the slurp offerings, like egg custard, tiramisu or wedding cake?

These sound too filling, so I consider the cocktail take-offs like mai-tai, margarita and pina colada, but when my turn comes, I forget to act grown up. Cherry on one side, chocolate on the other and heavy on the marshmallow topping, I blurt out.

The sensation is stunning: sweet tart fruit, chocolate and gooey marshmallow mingled with finely shaved ice. Alternately sipping, slurping and munching, I take refuge under a sliver of awning and ravage my prize. Slow down, slow down, I tell myself, no not to savor but to avoid the guzzler's scourge, the ice-cream headache.

As I gulped the last bits of slush, I ponder my weakness for this simple, some would say unsophisticated, others god-awful concoction. Perhaps it's due to my Snowball-deprived childhood.

I grew up on a farm, so my rare Snowball encounters came during summer visits with cousins who lived in a backwater, one-Snowball-stand town compared to today's venues, but no hut was Spartan, one fellow in a rickety wooden stall with a hand-lettered sign and basic choices like grape, cola and good-old cherry. No toppers or two-syrup options in those days, but its wares were wonderfully, tease-achingly sweet and chilling, and at 10-cents apiece, fit our budgets, and they turned our tongues garish colors that lasted for hours.

The Snowball stands I frequent nowadays tend to be much fancier, though no more enticing, and sport clever names like Chilly Willy's, Sweet Shivers and Icy Delights. The rainbow of flavors is so mesmerizing, I usually have trouble making up my mind. No I don't, it's always cherry on one side, chocolate on the other and heavy on the marshmallow topping.

SEABROOK: There's a recipe for that marshmallow topping in commentator Nancy Baggett's latest cookbook. It's called "The All-American Dessert Book."

(Soundbite of music)

SEABROOK: Up next, tales of woo from you, a heart-shaped homework assignment. It's NPR News.

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