The summer I was 17, I earned my gas money toiling at Sno Biz, a seasonal shack half a mile from my parents’ place. Sno Biz was the place to be, a town hub you could post up at a sticky picnic table and ogle kids from neighboring high schools. It was also a rough place to work; I, along with a few other sullen teens, had to lug huge blocks of ice into the shack and shave them by hand, all while being set upon by sugar-crazed grasshoppers and long lines of sweaty customers paying in quarters. But it came with one major perk: all the shaved ice I could eat during my shifts.
Now, a decade later, I still consider myself something of a shaved ice connoisseur. Summer ices go way beyond the rock-hard sno-cones, with all kinds of textures and toppings depending on where you look. From Philadelphian water ice to Puerto Rican piraguas, sugary snow is a language spoken ’round the world.