My recent trip to Hawaii reignited my love for shaved ice. Granted, my commitment to sourcing out quality shaved ice has never wavered. I've been known to drive miles out of the way for a taste of this icy cool treat.

This affair started many, many years ago when I was first introduced to shaved ice as a kid in Hawaii. After that day, I never looked at another snow cone again. And how could I? It’s like comparing Super Mario to Super Mario 3 or like driving an old beat up hatchback all your life and then getting the keys to a brand new European sports car. You don't look back. 

So obviously it drives me nuts when someone tries to argue that shaved ice and snow cones are one in the same. I thought I'd break down the differences and include a few other yummy varieties that I've had the pleasure of trying.

Shave Ice

Shave Ice

Origin: Hawaii by way of Japan

Texture: Soft, snowy, melts-in-your-mouth

Other notes: Ice is shaved from a block. Holds flavor incredibly well...every bite is packed with flavor. In Hawaii, it's known as "Shave Ice" vs. "Shaved Ice."

My perfect Shave Ice: Strawberry, vanilla and coconut syrups with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on bottom and topped with condensed milk (aka Snow Cap).

Coke Float Shave Ice

Coke Float Shave Ice

Try this amazing flavor combination that tastes exactly like a Coke float!

Syrups and flavors: Coca-Cola and vanilla

Other Notes: Have your shaveologist place vanilla ice cream at the base of the shave ice, flavor with the Coca-Cola and vanilla syrups and top it off with condensed milk. Heaven in a paper cone!

Snow Cones

Snow Cone

Origin: North America

Texture: Icy, crunchy, granular

Other notes: Nostalgic American treat that reminds you of childhood. Ice is ground vs. shaved. Doesn't really hold syrup flavors well, they drip to the bottom pretty quickly, so you better eat fast!

My perfect Snow Cone: None (ha!)

Snow Ice

Snow Ice

Origin: Taiwan

Texture: Light, airy, smooth, creamy

Other Notes:  A cross between ice cream and shave ice. Blocks of ice are pre-flavored, usually with some sort of cream, milk, or non-dairy alternative and then shaved. The cream helps the snow ice maintain its velvety ribbon shape as it folds onto the plate. It's unlike anything I've ever tasted and quickly became a new obsession. If you haven't had a chance to taste snow ice, you're missing out!   

My Perfect Snow Ice: I love, love, love the Osmanthus flavor topped with condensed milk (I know...WHAT is that!?). It's a flower and really creates the most pleasant, slightly sweet, almost tea like floral flavor.  My other favorite is honeydew topped with caramel. 



Origin: Korea

Texture: Similar to shave ice, but this base is usually topped with milk or condensed milk.

Other Notes: I first had Patbingsu when I lived in Korea during high school. To be honest, I was afraid to try it at first because it was always covered with too many toppings like azuki beans, mochi, cereal flakes, fruits, fruit jellies, etc. Coming from the U.S., that was just too wild an assortment for my naive little taste buds. The azuki beans freaked me out most, but once I tried them, I was surprised to discover how sweet they were and how well the grainy texture paired with the shaved ice!

My perfect Patbingsu: While my friends may like theirs loaded with every topping in sight, I prefer to keep it simple with a fruit Patbingsu: plain shaved ice with condensed milk and then topped with mango, kiwi and strawberries, a mini scoop of azuki beans, and a few morsels of mochi on the side. 


My recommendations on where to get your ice fix:

Shave Ice | Matsumoto Shave Ice - Honolulu's North Shore, Hawaii

Shave Ice | Sticky Fingers - Irvine, Calif.

Snow Ice | Frostcity - Honolulu, Hawaii

Snow Ice | Class 302 - Rowland Heights, Calif.

Patbingsu | Paris Baguette - Various locations

Patbingsu | Java & Mug Café – Chicago, Ill.

Christian Glazier

Christian Glazier is a fashion industry talent scout, writer and food enthusiast. Inspired by her passion and appreciation for exceptional food, she began blogging in 2010 under the pseudonym “girllovesfood” and has since expanded her blog to include style and travel categories under the lifestyle umbrella Based in Los Angeles, Christian is an avid traveler, frequent restaurant patron, shopping connoisseur and karaoke addict. 

Christian is part of The Opener, an exclusive, invite-only contributor network that will bring the best food, culture and innovation writing to the pages of Coca-Cola Journey.