Shave Ice (not shaved ice) is a traditional cold treat made with fine ice shavings. It is related to but should not be confused with the American “snow cone,” which uses crushed ice. The history of shave ice is rooted in East Asia as far back as the 7th century, particularly on the islands of Japan.
The Journey Across the Pacific
In the 1800’s, many Japanese natives immigrated to the United States. These newly settled immigrants continued the shave ice tradition in their new home. Ice carts began spreading throughout the east and west coast, stopping in cities like Baltimore, New York, New Orleans, and across California to sell tasty ice shavings topped with fruit juice.
While it is well known that many Japanese Americans landed on the shores of California and New York, there was also a large Japanese immigration to the agriculture-rich islands of Hawaii, where Japanese immigrants were hired to work the pineapple plantations. After a hard day’s work in the hot sun, the newly settled islanders could be found finely shaving ice blocks and pouring fruit juice over top. Soon shave ice was being sold as an extra value treat for Islanders to enjoy when they visited the local general stores, often owned by Japanese immigrants. The shave iced tradition in the western hemisphere was born.
A Star is Born
As word got around about these new delicious cold treats, the demand grew. By the 1950’s shave ice had become a staple of American culture. Shave ice stands are a standard at state fairs, carnivals, and circus shows. While shave ice is enjoyed throughout the United States, it’s a law of tradition in places known for the heat, and where residents are always looking for a way to cool off. There are several historic shave ice shops in New Orleans and Hawaii, most notably, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans, and Matsumoto’s on Oahu’s North Shore.
An Art Form
Crafting the perfect cup of shave ice is no easy feat. In fact, it’s a down right art form. It all starts with, well, the ice. Unlike the American snow cone that is a simple scope of crushed ice with syrup on top, shave ice is made with only fresh ice shavings. When done right, the shavings are so fine that they appear snow white, and melt in your mouth. While some shave ice joints still use syrups to flavor the ice, the more popular options are made from natural fruits, vegetables, and juices. Toppings are also popular on a refreshing cup of shave ice, be it whip cream, marshmallows, or chopped banana. When it comes to an artfully crafted shave ice, it’s all about super fine ice shavings, and natural flavors.
Come Check Us Out
The Shaving Cup is your local shave ice location. We are a mobile shave ice stand that serves up the delicious Hawaiian treat. We stock fresh and natural fruit syrups, and serve up only the finest shaved ice. Check out our Facebook page to see when we will be near you, and come join in on the sweet fun!