A Quest for a Baltimore Sno-ball


August 15, 2011, Washington, DC: Certain places are associated with certain foods that just aren’t the same anywhere else. There's nowhere in my hometown to get chicken parm sandwiches quite like the ones we ate at Rinaldi's deli in high school. There's nowhere in my neighborhood to get a bagel that comes close to those on every block up in New York. And there's certainly no place on earth a kid get a good sno-ball other than Baltimore.

I went hunting for one today, for a sno-ball like the ones I remember from growing up.

To be clear: A sno-ball is not a snowcone. It is not served in a tiny pointy paper cup. It is not made with overly chunky ice. A full-fledged sno-ball comes in a proper cup with finer ice and it comes in flavors above and beyond staples like cherry and orange. People in Baltimore prefer flavors like egg custard and spearmint and skylite. Perhaps most important to the sno-ball equation is the marshmallow topping. Don’t let anyone tell you, “Oh yeah, we have those, too. Like a snowcone, right?"

Sno-balls are hard to come by outside of the greater Baltimore area, so I traveled in the direction of BWI airport today for my afternoon snack. I found what I was looking for at B&B Sno-balls in Glen Burnie, Md.

I hadn't had egg custard with marshmallow in approximately a decade. As it turns out, it tasted a bit more sugary than it used to. Something else I recalled: Sno-balls are very sticky. I remembered that when I accidentally spilled mine all over the car.

Did your childhood hometowns have a certain food that you can't find anywhere else? If you've had it since, was it as good as you remembered?