It’s 95 degrees in the shade, I’ve just gotten a fresh haircut and this Louisiana boy needs a snowball. They’re a summertime staple in my hometown of New Orleans, but are they a thing here in Houston? If so, where can I find one? I looked no further than Buzzles Shaved Ice in Spring.
I traverse Louetta Rd. every Saturday for my weekly visits to Detroit the Barber. But a few weeks ago, I noticed a red barn on my way back home, in a parking lot next to Quick Quack Car Wash. It did cross my mind, some time ago, as to whether or not there were any good snowball stands in my new home of Spring, so this was the perfect opportunity to experiment; I ducked out of traffic and into the Buzzles queue.
Buzzles is a chain of snowball stands, with four locations across the northern Houston suburbs. They take inspiration from the sweet, addictive flavors of the traditional New Orleans confection while giving you the softness of Hawaiian shaved ice, creating one beautiful ‘snow cone.’ Further, their flavors are made with real cane sugar without high fructose corn syrup, and they offer a litany of special blends and toppings, all for a decent price. Buzzles’ snowballs come in five sizes, from kiddie to jumbo. But If I were to compare their cup sizes to clothing, I’d say that they run large, where their kiddie is a small, and their small is much like a medium–you definitely get your money’s worth.
My first visit was on Jun. 2. I had only been in the Houston area for two months by this point, so naturally I went for one of their kiddie Texas-themed flavors. Pecan Pie tastes just like its namesake, despite the fact that I don’t really eat actual pecan pies (I never cared for the consistency). Given the option of domed or flat, I went with domed–sure, why not? The dome collapsed as the cashier handed my snowball to me. Undeterred, I proceeded to pick up the remnants of the perfectly-shaped dome from my lap and into salivating my mouth. This was when I decided to make this impromptu visit into a blog post.
Staying in the Texas theme, I returned to Buzzles the following week for a small Armadillo. Named for one of my favorite animals, Armadillo is a blend of Root Beer and Silver Fox, which itself is a creamy blend of almond and vanilla flavors. It was on this visit when I learned about their rewards program.
Buzzles offers a card with a chart of visits. The cashier punches a hole for each snowball–sometimes two, if there’s a special going on–and the tenth snowball is free.
I ordered a small during this visit and as expected, it was pretty big, which meant even more satisfaction. One thing I should add is that Buzzles doesn’t skimp on syrup. Some of my relatives attended Dancin’ in the Street at Miller Outdoor Theatre in May, and they told me about how the snowballs were made there; the attendants poured the syrup in first, added the ice, then added more syrup on the back end. I’m unsure if this is how Buzzles does theirs, but I wouldn’t be surprised, as you get a massive amount of flavor in each bite.
In deciding to write a blog post, I wanted to choose my flavors carefully. In other words, I felt that going for my usual Banana, Coconut, Ice Cream or Wedding Cake would defeat the purpose. I ordered a small Texas Flag for my third visit, which is a combination of Piña Colada, Watermelon and Blue Raspberry–the latter two being the most dominant flavors. Per recommendation from the cashier, I went out of my comfort zone and added sweet cream. Ever since I was little, I was never a fan of toppings other than gummy bears on my snowballs, and even that grew tiresome as I got older. The sweet cream was a tasty addition which changed the consistency of the snowball just a bit. But because of my stubborn palate, I went without it on my next visit.
It is now July 7, which also happened to be my seventh punch on the card. I decided to break from experimentation, going back to basics with a kiddie Cake Batter. Bright yellow in hue, Cake Batter tasted just like the holy goop licked off of many a spoon as kid, and just like every snowball before it, this one was gone before I even crossed Interstate 45. With that said, this would mark my final visit before finally writing this blog.
Okay, scratch that…
Flavors at a glance:
A rich, fairly creamy and nutty flavor, true to is namesake.
A very berry flavor, with the fruity blue raspberry being the strongest. Again, the sweet cream was an additional topping.
A charmingly sweet flavor that could take you back to the days of licking yellow cake batter off Mama’s spoon, with a similar scent–one of my favorite flavors, bar none.
Imagine a flavor much sweeter than your average tangy cheesecake, with a slight hint of vanilla. Much like Cake Batter, Cheese Cake wowed me beyond belief.
A holy combination of two classic ‘yellows’ with a punch reminiscent of Juicy Fruit gum, the blend of Banana and Ice Cream (flavor) make for yet another creamy taste for a hot summer day.
Nectar (not pictured)
A childhood favorite that I probably haven’t had in nearly twenty years. The sweet, syrupy sensation morphing into an enjoyably bitter aftertaste brought me back to the ’90s. Oh, how I’ve missed this one.
I’m a grown 29-year-old man, so I’m gonna get a little daring.
In some ways, a daiquiri itself is a grownup’s snowball with roots in Cuba. Naturally, none of Buzzles’ flavors contain, for example, rum, one of the main ingredients in a daiquiri. Instead, you’re greeted with the familiar, ‘gently tangy’ flavor of the other main ingredient: lime. Satisfied as usual, this was my final flavor before publishing this delayed post.
Buzzles continues my trend of finding some of the best places just by looking around, scrolling on social media or visiting on a whim. Their prices are great and their selection is beyond belief, with further perks unlike anything I’ve ever seen back home; there’s something for every person of any age and palate. At some point, I will try some of their other toppings, as I came close to adding Skittles to my Cake Batter. But you can count on me not adding a dill pickle, as pickles are the devil and should be exiled from Earth…
Either way, the team at Buzzles have a great thing going, as they instantly brought me back home to New Orleans. I can’t wait to follow up with a five-star review on Yelp, and I’m glad to call them a new weekly staple–one of my favorite places in the Houston area.
So ends the second entry for my brand-new This Is Houston blog series. I should note that these articles are not intended as reviews, but merely shout-outs to the people and places that have caught my attention. In effect, these posts are a continuation of my previous series, Javan Does Baton Rouge. Still, I hope to inform and entertain you, the reader, as I continue to explore the Bayou City one entry at a time.
I’m Javan Hamilton, and that was Houston–coming soon to YouTube. Check out more photos in the gallery below.
Thank you for reading! This website serves as my portfolio for your eyes, ears and mind to indulge in. Feel free to explore this site, where you can view my body of work, as well as learn a little of the method behind the madness. Further, follow me on Facebook and Instagram, look me up on IMDb and subscribe to me on YouTube. I’m also on LinkedIn, and please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any inquiries.