A shaved ice maker is a device that turns large blocks or small cubes of ice into slivers. Shaved pieces of ice are usually used to create artificially flavored treats frequently called snow cones. A shaved ice maker functions in the same manner that a regular ice maker does, only the outcome of the machine's process is different.
When ice is inserted into a shaved ice maker, a motor fitted with blades finely grinds the ice into small shavings. These shavings are ideal for any artificial syrup that may be poured over them, since syrup tends to stick to finely shaved ice. In one hour, an industrial shaved ice maker can grind nearly 500 pounds (226.79 kg) of ice. Residential shaved ice makers do not grind as much ice as industrial machines, but they do grind enough ice to make a fair amount of frozen treats.
The shaved ice maker is frequently confused with the snow cone maker, though the two machines do not function in the same manner. A snow cone maker grinds large blocks of ice into fine bits that resemble balls of ice or snow. When artificial syrup is added to ice that was created from a snow cone maker, the syrup automatically sinks to the bottom of the snow cone receptacle.
Shaved ice is largely associated with Hawaii, since shaved ice treats are popular throughout Hawaii, though the first shaved ice maker was invented in New Orleans. A man by the name of Ernest Hansen developed the first motorized shaved ice maker in 1934. Prior to Hansen's invention, street vendors chipped and shaved ice by hand from large blocks. When Hansen's invention was introduced, many street vendors gave up the hand chipping method for the practical shaved ice maker.
Today, shaved ice treats can be found all across the globe. Nearly every country has some form of shaved ice treat, though these syrupy snacks tend to go by different names according to geographic location. Snow cones come in a number of different flavors and sizes, though the recipe for a basic snow cone remains the same.
Those who would like to make snow cones at home can purchase shaved ice makers from certain manufacturers online or through specialty kitchen supply stores. Residential shaved ice makers are relatively inexpensive in addition to being easy to use. Industrial shaved ice machines tend to be more expensive than residential machines, though the return on investment is often worth the initial price.