McKinney parents know that it’s tough to drive down Eldorado Parkway without hearing their kids pleading from the back seat for a fast-food treat, ice cream or frozen yogurt.
This summer, that drive has become even more difficult with numerous shaved ice stands popping up all over McKinney – they’re not exclusive to Eldorado.
Small, hut-like beacons of childhood dreams are everywhere. Various flavors, themes and features distinguish these boardwalk-like destinations all over town.
The Scallywags stand across from Market Street owned by Steve Matzke was created to resemble a pirate ship, while the Love Shack, located in the parking lot at E-Care off Hardin and Eldorado, features a ’60s hippy vibe. It’s owned by Matzke as well.
No newcomer to seasonal businesses, Matzke has owned pumpkin patches and Christmas tree lots too. He started Scallywag Refreshments last year and takes pride in the popularity of his locations and their unique designs.
“I have created a different theme for each location to attract customers, kids especially,” Matzke says. “We plan on opening new themed locations annually in Allen, Little Elm and possibly The Colony.”
Shaved ice stands attract adults and children alike within a 5-mile radius. However, loyal customers are willing to make a longer trek to reach their favorites.
Each location offers enormous variety. Roger Parrish, for example, owns a shaved ice stand at the intersection of North Graves Street and Virginia Street east of U.S. 75. His stand is famous for offering a scoop of ice cream in the center of each customer’s shaved ice cup.
“We call it the deluxe,” Parrish explains.
His granddaughter, Nikki, adds: “My favorite is wedding cake [flavored syrup] without the ice cream.”
Syrup flavors range from the traditional strawberry, grape and cherry to unconventional flavors such as Godzilla, Rock and Roll, Dill Pickle and Cake Batter.
On a recent evening, youngsters Trent, Caitlin and Michael proclaimed Dill Pickle as their unanimous favorite from Love Shack.
Snowie Shaved Ice, located at Parkway Auto Spa, offers the unconventional flavors as well. Better known as “the first sno-cone stand in McKinney,” Snowie Shaved Ice began the original Snowie business in 2003.
Currently owned by Alvaro and Diana Nuñez, the Snowie stand offers refreshing treats while looking for ways to provide service to the community.
“The young men who work at our location are Boy Scouts of America, and we’re very proud of their accomplishments,” Diana Nuñez says. “We look forward to a great summer and our wonderful, loyal, customers visiting us at the Snowie!”
Shaved ice is often categorized under the familiar title of snow cones but the two have slight differences. Shaved ice is shaved very finely into a snow-like texture, soft enough to hold the syrup within the shavings. Its rival is composed of a harder, ground ice that allows the syrup to settle at the bottom of the cup. Both versions have fans who argue that their preferred shaved ice is superior.
While shaved ice is a popular summer dessert, the cool treat packs interesting nutritional facts.
Composed mainly of ice, one might initially think it’s a healthier alternative to frozen yogurt. However, the syrupy addition is flavored sugar water, and the calories quickly rack up.
Nutritional facts on the typical serving size of shaved ice, ice cream and frozen yogurt stack up this way: A small, two-ounce serving of typical shaved-ice syrup, which douses the four-ounce serving of ice, contains 170 calories and 40 grams of sugar, (as noted on livestrong.com.). By comparison, a five-ounce serving of ice cream is close to 400 calories and 35 grams of sugar, (as noted on coldstonecreamery.com). Frozen yogurt, another top summertime treat, has an average of 150 calories and 30 grams of sugar in a five-ounce serving before adding popular toppings such as fruit, nuts, or candy (as noted on yumi-licious.com).
As a relief to the often-high price of kids’ entertainment, shaved ice is affordable, with cool prices starting as low as $1.
With so many shaved ice locations in McKinney, the top question is how owners deal with competition.
“I try to create a fun environment by adding picnic tables, relaxing lighting and music; somewhere people can be comfortable and stay a while to beat the Texas heat and enjoy their shaved ice,” says Matzke.
The themes of Matzke’s future locations include a lifeguard shack, a crashed flying saucer and a tropical flame-shooting gazebo.
Scallywags, staffed often by Colby Matzke, the owner's son, also offers items unique to its location, including Pirate’s Booty, a white-cheddar popcorn, and a complimentary snow cone with gravy for the four-legged family members.
Most shaved ice stands are open early in the afternoon through late in the evening and are seasonal.
So round up the family and take a tour of shaved ice stands this summer to decide your family’s favorite. The countless combinations and special offers might make it nearly impossible to choose.
About the author: Ebony Francis is a sophomore at the University of Missouri majoring in convergence journalism; she enjoys community service, student involvement, and spending time with friends and family.