And so it begins…

We’re happy to be back for the 2014 season. We kicked it off a little earlier this year than last year with an event to support Chaparral High School’s work with the Make a Wish foundation. We had a great time at the carnival and look forward to more.

It’s already looking like it will be a very busy summer. We are signed up with the Lone Tree Farmer’s Market, where we will be every Saturday morning starting May 17th.IMG_5188 (800x533)

Our biggest event so far will be the new Morrison Alley Fest in Morrison, CO. This will be a pretty cool event with bands, a kids area, food, crafts and stuff like that. That’s May 3.

We also have several school and community events lined up, which we are looking forward to. And Murdoch’s, of course, where we will be the rest of the time!

If you are an organizer and are still looking to get authentic Hawaiian shave ice at your event this year, please contact us as soon as you can so we can check our availability and get you on the calendar.


“Snocones” Make Me Sick!

It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means… it’s time for a rant!

I emailed a person today about a local event. It’s an outdoor Summer event that is the perfect time and place to have a nice, soft, smooth Hawaiian shave ice. She responded promptly, to her credit, and told me we wouldn’t sell much there because they give away “snocones.”

My first thought? Gross! Why would anyone do that to people who were nice enough to come to their event?




Snow cones.

No matter how you spell it, it’s just gross. What’s even the point? Yes, it’s cold and yes it has some sugar on it. But seriously, people, once you try a true Hawaiian shave ice, the difference is immediately evident. They shouldn’t even be in the same category, in my opinion. They are totally different treats.

It’s like comparing something super-delicious to a decroded piece of crap.

To each her own, I guess.

I will continue to carry the flag of deliciousness into the battle for the taste buds of all humanity.

Why “Hawaiian”?

Here at Mauna Snoa, we pride ourselves on providing an authentic Hawaiian shave ice experience. That manifests itself in our true tropical flavors, our add-ins, our machinery and our Aloha spirit. So, why did we choose to go Hawaiian, versus other styles that I have written about in the past?


Mainly, it’s the feeling that Hawaii evokes in the human soul. Just mention Hawaii to someone and they are immediately thinking about sandy beaches, tropical breezes, crystal clear ocean water and a laid-back lifestyle. It’s an exotic tropical destination without being too “exotic” if you know what I mean. Millions of people make Hawaii a favored destination for vacations. In fact, Hawaii ranks twice in the top 10 favorite US vacation destinations, according to this US News poll.

A true Hawaiian-style shave ice can transport you back to (if you’ve been before) or to the Islands for a brief period, at a fraction of the price. Here in Colorado, we don’t have fancy beaches or year-round warm weather. However, when it does get warm, and hot, nothing refreshes like spending a couple bucks on shave ice. It’s like a vacation in a cup.

We were very pleasantly surprised throughout our first Summer that many native Hawaiians and others who had spent significant time in the Islands enjoyed and approved of our shave ice. Given our location in Colorado, they were often somewhat dubious at first. Let me give you a couple “frinstances”: a Hawaiian family came by and did what many Hawaii-experts do… they looked at the sign that said “Authentic Hawaiian Shave Ice” and said either to themselves or to us, “We’ll be the judge of that!” Well, they really enjoyed it. They enjoyed it so much that, on their way to the airport to fly home to Hawaii, they had to stop again and get another round.

Another man from Hawaii who now lives locally saw us and had to test our “authenticity” as well. Bam. Another valued customer. We also did a couple Hawaiian events here in Colorado where our product was well-received.

I didn’t start writing this post to brag, but I get a little carried away talking about our great customers. Let’s just finish with this: we love producing and selling the best Hawaiian shave ice around. We’re just glad people like it so much and glad we can make so many people happy. We are looking forward to another great Summer this year.

Hawaiian Events Lined Up

I don’t like to brag, but Mauna Snoa will be providing the shave ice at two major Hawaiian events in the Denver area this year. Denver doesn’t have the major Polynesian communities that some places do, but they are just as enthusiastic here about celebrating their culture as they are anywhere else, and we are so happy to be part of it.
The earliest will be the 6th Annual Lei Day Celebration put on at Gateway HS in Aurora by Halau Kalama. This will be a great event with music and dancing celebrating the culture of Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti and Samoa. There will also be arts and crafts, vendors, a fire show and SHAVE ICE!  You need to buy tickets soon, as it’s coming up real fast. It’s on Saturday, May 4th.

In June, we have been selected (and it was rigorous, believe me!) by the Pi’ilani Hawaiian Civic Club of Denver to provide the ice at their Ho’olaule’a which will be held at Highlands Ranch Civic Green park on June 22. This is a huge event with thousands of people expected to attend. Entertainment, cultural activities, children’s fun things and food will all be there. Oh, and it’s free!

Who’s got the best shave ice in Denver? Oh yeah, I forgot, I don’t like to brag

It’s Not a Snow Cone!

I don’t blame people who haven’t had authentic Hawaiian shave ice refer to our product as a “snow cone.” You can’t hold people responsible for what they have not experienced. So, let me wax eloquent here on the basic differences between a fluffy shave ice and a crunchy snow cone.

Let’s start with the basics. Both products are made of ice. Both have flavored syrups. Uh, let’s see. Both are cold (but that’s really because of point number one, they are both made of ice).

Made of Ice

Snow cones and shave ice are both ice-based. You make a snow cone by crushing ice into little pieces. It’s kind of like the “crushed ice” setting on your freezer’s ice maker, but more consistent and a little finer. There are machines for home or commercial use that you can buy to get the ice crushed into such a way that you can stick it into a paper cone.

Shave ice (or shaved ice) is, as it sounds, shaved off of a block of ice. While this was once accomplished with long, sharp blades, it now happens with large machines that can hold a block of ice, spin it around really fast, and a blade comes up at the bottom of the ice block and shaves fine layer after fine layer off the block.
There are a few nuances here as well. There is such a thing as shaved ice made from ice cubes. The machines that do that are called “ice cube shavers” and they produce a decent quality product, finer than the crushed ice of a snow cone. I believe that the best shave ice comes off of actual blocks of ice (those machines are “block ice shavers”), although they do work more slowly than cube shavers.

Flavored with Syrup

I was in my local restaurant supply store the other day signing up for an account under the Mauna Snoa name. When the front desk person saw what kind of business it was (my application actually said “Mauna Snoa Shave Ice”), she helpfully pointed me to the back of the store where she told me there were some flavored syrups for snow cones. When I made my way around to the back, I saw gallon jugs of Hawaiian Classic (or something similar) ready-to-use syrup. The selection was slim to begin with, maybe 8-10 flavors. Worst of all, when I looked at the ingredients, the first one was high fructose corn syrup. Gross, but that’s what they’re putting on your snow cone.

Here at Mauna Snoa, we have been through a meticulous process to select the best vendor of authentic Hawaiian flavors. We believe one of the differentiators in a high quality shave ice product is the realism of the flavor. We have selected a vendor that we are confident will provide the absolute highest quality product. Are they the cheapest? No way, but it’s worth it for the quality we will be getting. We purchase freshly-made concentrates, then mix them with 100% pure cane sugar and crystal clear artesian water to produce flavorful syrups for our shave ice.

What Else?

You know when you get a snow cone, and the syrup (with HFCS) all goes to the bottom of the paper cone? Yeah, that’s because ice is not absorbent. Know what is absorbent? Snow. A good quality shave ice absorbs the syrup so you’re eating flavor all the way down. In fact, sometimes the syrup doesn’t make it all the way to the bottom of the shave ice cup, but it usually migrates down the further you eat.

Ever gotten any add-ons to your snow cone? Ice cream, for example? Me neither. However, shave ice has many options for add-ons that make a great product even better. You can get ice cream in the bottom, which is out of this world, a snowcap on top for some additional creaminess, or other options that are favored in the Islands like mochi balls, azuki beans and li hing mui powder. You gotta try them!


What is Shave Ice?

Many cultures have their versions of ice-based treats, beloved by citizens of many cultures around the world. From Canadians far to the north pouring fresh maple syrup on newly-fallen snow to Namibians crushing ice and covering it with boar fat, these treats often have regional attraction.

In the USA there are also regional differences ranging from “sno-balls” in the Northeast to New Orleans style “shaved ice” in the deep south to snow cones across the Midwest to Hawaiian shave ice in Hawaii.

matsumoto-shave-ice[1]True Hawaiian-style shave ice is made by finely shaving blocks of ice, not ice cubes. The ice comes off the machine like a newly-fallen snow. That fine consistency holds the flavor syrup much better than larger pieces of crushed ice can do.

That is essentially the difference between a snow cone and a shaved ice. A snow cone is made by crushing ice cubes which causes all the flavoring to run to the bottom of the flimsy paper cone. Compared to a true shave ice, a snow cone is a waste of space. If you did a taste comparison between the two products, there would be a clear, hands-down winner. The Hawaiian shave ice.