Best snowball is an extremely difficult category in which to bestow Best of Baltimore recognition. There are just so many snowball stands, and the icy sweet treat they dish up is pretty much the same from place to place. Quality is generally not an issue; snowballs are either good or bad, and the stands selling bad ones don’t stay open for business very long. Thus, we’re recognizing the Schrader family’s Renie’s Sno-ball Stand for the fact that it has some of the lowest prices around (the extra large tub o’ ice is only $1.25), offers a phenomenal selection of flavors (82!), and is pretty much the ideal manifestation of what a snowball stand should look like.
The business, now in its 34th summer, operates out of a freestanding dedicated snowball hut, complete with fancy outdoor lighting, set up on the family’s front lawn. It’s a busy place where a constant flow of customers walks away from the counter, spoons poised over towering cups of flavored shaved ice. Although egg custard, cherry, and chocolate (with marshmallow, of course) are the favorite choices, the menu offers flavors named for cartoon characters—Bart Simpson, Ninja Turtle, and Lion King (Smurf, sadly, has been phased out)—as well as gourmet varieties such as guava, kiwi, and passion fruit. If you’re working the 12 steps or are underage, you can always enjoy wine cooler, whiskey sour, and piña colada flavors. (Or you can answer as did one young fellow on a recent trip to Miss Renie’s stand. When asked what flavor he wanted, he replied, “Red!” but settled happily for a nice kiddie-size Power Ranger.) Our favorite has to be the Purple Haze. With marshmallow, of course.