Transcript Staff Writer

There's more than ice and syrup in the cup when Brian Delcambre sells one of his Sno-Ball Express sno-cones. Each cone is packed with years of development and fun.

Depending on the source, the first sno-cone may have been created by the Romans sometime during the big B.C.-to-A.D. changeover.

Runners and sometimes troops were dispatched to retrieve snow from the mountains for the wealthy of the empire. The much-traveled snow then was combined with fruits and syrups to become a frozen dessert favorite.

Centuries later the treat would resurface when New Orleans street vendors in the late 1800s hand-shaved blocks of ice and gave it a name ? the sno-cone.

Thanks to the invention of the motorized ice-shaver in the 1930s, customers can skip the mountains or tracking down a rolling cart on a hot summer day and visit a sno-cone stand like Delcambre's.

"It's something cold and it lasts a long time," Delcambre said of his frozen concoctions he makes from his stand in Noble.

Unlike a soft drink or other beverages, Delcambre said, "if you eat a sno-cone too fast you will get a brain freeze."

It may be hard to stop yourself from immediately downing one of Delcambre's sno-cones. The brightly-colored syrups, catchy names and fine ice just ask to be eaten.

From silver fox to wedding cake, rainbow brite to Sponge Bob, Sno-Ball Express, 601 S. 5th St. and State Highway 77, is sure to have something appealing for just about everyone.

"I come down here a lot," said Samantha Barrett, 14. The former Nevada resident has been living in Noble for about a year.

She said she tried many flavors before settling on her usual ? root beer. Besides the taste, Barrett said, sno-cones help her beat the summer heat.

"It's hot and these cool you down," she said.

Many Sno-Ball Express customers choose to hang out in the Tiki Lounge ? a covered sitting area Delcambre created to give people a place to sit, converse and enjoy freshly scooped sno-cones.

"It's for the people to stay," Delcambre said of the bright colors and decorations of his island-inspired lounge. "A lot of people like to sit around and talk and not get any mess in the car.

"I think it's neat to give them some place to sit. I'm from Louisiana and it's Southern hospitality."

As a longtime Noble businessman, Delcambre said he has a lot of regular customers and often is recognized outside the stand.

"I could be in Hobby Lobby, and I will hear, 'Hey, it's the Sno-Ball Man,'" he said with a smile.

While Noble has its Sno-Ball Man, Norman has its very own Sno-Cone Guy.

Adrian Buendia has been serving up sno-cones since 1999. With two locations, West Lindsey Street and Robinson Crossing, Buendia's Eskimo Sno are cool stands that often turn into hot spots.

"It's a seasonal product," he explained. Buendia said that's a reason sno-cones are big sellers.

Both Buendia and Delcambre keep their stands open from April to September.

"The fact that you can't get it all the time makes it unique," Buendia said.

Like Sno-Ball Express, Eskimo Sno has an assortment of wacky names and flavors that add to the experience.

"It's just pop culture," Buendia said. "You associate something in the mainstream kids will like. That's where the fun is."

He also uses sour straws ? a hollow piece of licorice coated with a sour powder ? saying, "It's a fun thing to throw in there for the kids."

Another way Buendia personalizes his product and connects with the community is through his "create your own cone." Anyone can pick three flavors, give it a name and see if it sells.

"Ten people have to order it," Buendia described as the process for a cone to become a permanent fixture on the ordering board.

But even if your one-of-a-kind cone doesn't make it on the board, Buendia still will greet you with one of his popular and booming, "Hi friends."

"It's just a fun community atmosphere," he said. "People will drive by and see their friends here. I enjoy making the kids and people happy."

Back in Noble, the Sno-Ball Man has the same motivation.

"I like the people, and Noble is a good town," the former oil man said. "I look forward to it every day."

And as long as the Sno-Ball Man and Sno-Cone Guy are open, fans like Patrisha Barrett will be there to pick up a cone.

"They just taste good," she said.

Tony Pennington 366-3541 schools@normantranscript.com

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