My California friend—let’s just call her “Malibu” Jane—tells me that on the Left Coast they are especially fond of shaved ice. Apparently Sweet Crush is the Ted Drewes of shaved ice in those parts.
The frosty ribbons come in such intriguing flavors as pink guava, espresso, mojito, lychee, pomegranate, blood orange, Earl Grey, and tropical siesta (your guess is as good as mine). Those wanting a little more substance, can order the sweet ice made with milk shaved into silky ribbons—like the one on the left.
When I heard about Sweet Crush, I had a sudden bout of deja vu. My very first purchase was shaved ice. I was four-years old. My mother gave me 3 pennies to buy what was then called a “snowball.” For those of you whose memories don’t go any farther back than the Cuban Missile Crisis, let me explain.
This primitive treat was made from the shavings of a 20-lb. block of ice and flavored with colored syrup. My purchase was made at the local mom and pop grocery. I recall Mr. Cornwell, the owner, grabbed a pair of ice tongs from the wall and used it to lift a large block of ice into a sink. I stood, holding my mother’s hand, in awe of his skill.
I watched wide-eyed as he ran the blade side of a small, cast iron box across the frozen block until it was filled with ice shavings. He plopped a mound of the mushy ice into a paper cone, and reached for some colored liquid.
“Red, green or purple?” he ask. I picked purple.
After that, I wanted an ice shaver of my own so I could duplicate this magic at home. But I never saw one for sale.
In my book, The Tide Always Comes Back, I write about finding one in an antique store years later, the nostalgia that ensued, and my grandson’s reaction to the overpriced chunk of metal.
The Sweet Crush slogan is, “You’ll never forget your first crush.”
Yep, I never forgot Mr. Cornwell.
Hmm. . . I wonder if today’s shaved ice comes in purple?