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Who Invented Shaved Ice?

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Shaved ice, also known as snow cones or Hawaiian shave ice, has been around for centuries. The exact origin of shaved ice is unknown, but it is believed to have originated in Japan during the Heian Period (794-1185 AD). It was called kakigori and was made by using a hand-cranked machine to shave large blocks of ice into fluffy snow-like flakes.

Shaved ice then traveled to other parts of the world, including China and Korea, where it became a popular dessert. In China, it was called bao bing, and in Korea, it was called patbingsu. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that shaved ice spread to the United States, becoming a popular treat in the hot and humid southern states.

While there is no one person who can be credited with inventing shaved ice, it has been enjoyed by people all over the world for centuries. Today, it continues to be a beloved dessert, with many variations and flavors available to satisfy any craving.

The Origins of Shaved Ice

Shaved ice has been a popular dessert for many centuries. The practice of shaving ice to make frozen treats dates back to ancient China during the Tang dynasty. In fact, the first recorded instance of shaved ice can be traced back to this time period.

The First Recorded Shaved Ice

The story goes that during the Tang dynasty in 618-907 AD, the emperor would send his servants to mountain tops to collect ice and bring it back to the palace. The ice would then be shaved, mixed with sweetened fruit juices, and served as a refreshing treat for the imperial court. Due to the rarity and expense of ice, only the elite were able to indulge in this luxurious dessert.

The Spread of Shaved Ice

Eventually, shaved ice spread throughout East Asia and became a popular dessert in Japan and Korea. In Japan, shaved ice is known as “kakigori,” meaning “shaved ice” in Japanese. The dessert became so popular that it even has its own festival – the Kakigori Matsuri – which celebrates the treat with different flavors and toppings.

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In Korea, shaved ice is known as “bingsu,” and it’s made with fruit, milk, sweet syrup, and sometimes topped with sweetened red bean paste. Bingsu is often enjoyed during the hot summer months and is a staple dessert in Korean culture.

The Introduction to the West

It wasn’t until the late 1800s that shaved ice was introduced to the West. This was made possible by Japanese immigrants who brought the dessert to Hawaii. The tropical climate of Hawaii made the dessert a hit, especially among the children who enjoyed the treat during the hot summer months.

Today, shaved ice is enjoyed all over the world and each culture has its own unique take on the dessert. In some places, shaved ice is made with condensed milk and sweet syrups, while in others it’s served with fresh fruit and coconut cream. Regardless of the variations, one thing is for sure – shaved ice is a delicious, refreshing treat that has been enjoyed for centuries and will continue to be enjoyed for many more to come.

Shaved ice may seem like a simple treat, but it has a rich history. Discover more about its origins and who was behind its creation with this pillared article.

Shaved Ice in America

The Emergence of the Sno-Cone

Shaved ice has been a popular frozen treat for centuries, with various versions popping up across the globe. However, in the early 1900s, the “Sno-Kone” machine was invented in New Orleans by Ernest Hansen, a Danish immigrant. Similar to modern-day shaved ice machines, the “Sno-Kone” machine used a blade to shave ice into a fine, fluffy texture. The ice was then flavored with syrup and served in a paper cone. Soon, the “Sno-Kone” became a popular treat, especially in warm southern states.

The Evolution of Shaved Ice Machines

As the popularity of shaved ice grew, so did the demand for more advanced machines. In the 1920s, Samuel Bert, an engineer from California, invented a new type of shaved ice machine that used a cone-shaped blade and a unique motor to create a finer snow-like texture. This machine was not only faster and more efficient than its predecessors but was also able to create more uniform ice shavings. These advancements led to the development of modern-day snow cone machines, which are now used in carnivals, festivals, and various food establishments across the country.

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The Growth of Shaved Ice Businesses

In recent years, shaved ice has become a popular business venture, with many entrepreneurs starting their own shaved ice stands and trucks. With the ability to customize flavors, many business owners have made shaved ice into a gourmet treat, offering unique flavor combinations such as mango chili or lavender honey. Shaved ice stands can now be found at many outdoor venues, making it the perfect portable treat for events like fairs, concerts and markets. Additionally, there are now many companies that specialize in manufacturing and selling shaved ice machines, allowing more people to start their own businesses and offer the refreshing treat to the masses.

Overall, shaved ice has come a long way since its humble beginnings. What was once a simple and refreshing summer treat has now become a gourmet attraction that people all over the country enjoy. Whether it’s the classic Sno-Kone, a modern-day snow cone or a unique flavor combination from a local food truck, shaved ice is a delicious and fun way to cool down and enjoy a sweet treat.

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The Health Benefits of Shaved Ice

A Low-Calorie Treat

As much as we all love a sweet treat, it’s no secret that most desserts are high in calories and can compromise our health. That’s where shaved ice comes in, offering a refreshing and healthier alternative. Compared to other dessert options, one serving of shaved ice contains significantly fewer calories, making it a guilt-free indulgence. Whether you’re watching your weight or simply prefer a low-calorie option, shaved ice is a great alternative.

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Nutritional Value

Shaved ice isn’t just a low-calorie dessert option, but it also has some nutritional value to it. Shaved ice is primarily made up of ice, which provides hydration to our bodies. Staying hydrated is important for optimal health, especially during hot summer months. Consuming shaved ice is a great way to stay cool while also staying hydrated. Moreover, shaved ice is typically free of fat and saturated fat, making it a healthy option for people who are trying to avoid those nutrients in their diets.

Healthy Toppings

Just like any other dessert, the toppings you choose to pair with your shaved ice can make a difference in its overall nutritional value. Fortunately, there are several healthy choices to elevate your shaved ice. Fresh fruit is an excellent option for a burst of natural sweetness and nutrients. Opt for toppings like berries, kiwis, mangoes, and pineapples as they are nutritious and low in calories. Nuts, such as almonds and cashews, can also add some crunch to the shaved ice and provide healthy fats to your diet.


Shaved ice isn’t just a delicious dessert, but it’s also a healthier option compared to other sweet treats. With a low calorie count and no fat, shaved ice is a great way to indulge without the guilt. Not to mention, it provides hydration to our bodies, keeping us cool and refreshed during hot summer months. Adding healthy toppings can elevate the nutritional value of shaved ice further. So, the next time you’re craving something sweet, consider reaching for a shaved ice instead of a more calorie-dense option.

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