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Local vendors offer icy treats to beat heat

Hannah Junkin, 10, of Brookhaven, left, sits with her cousins Casey Junkin, 9, center, and Billy Junkin, 7, as they eat chocolate ice cream cones Thursday afternoon at the Malt Shop. Natchez native and Houston resident Lucien Junkin took his children, Casey and Billy, and niece, Hannah, to the malt shop to enjoy cool treats like he did growing up. (Photo by Lauren Wood / The Natchez Democrat)

Mealtime rules sometimes slip away in the summertime like ice cream down the hand cradling a cone.

To beat the heat before suppertime, Billy, Casey and Hannah Junkin recently snacked on chocolate ice cream cones before their dinner arrived on a tray in the window at the Malt Shop.

Spending summers on the picnic tables at the Malt Shop is a tradition their parents started.

“I lived a bike ride away,” said Lucien Junkin, the father of Billy, 7, and Casey, 9. “So we would always come play at Dunkan Park, come here and have lunch.”

Lucien, a Houston resident, visited Natchez for a day trip Thursday with his children and his niece from Brookhaven, Hannah, 10. Each summer he comes back to visit Natchez, he said, he’s sure to stop by the Malt Shop to reinvigorate his children with an old tradition and a cold treat.

Malt Shop owner Gloria Neames said ice cream cones are always a big seller, but especially in the summer heat.

“(Some people) have been getting their treats here every summer for a long time,” Neames said.

But the biggest seller in the summertime isn’t the iconic chocolate, vanilla or chocolate and vanilla swirled cone. The friendly staff fills the most orders for blue bubblegum slushies when the sun is beating down, Neames said.

The Malt Shop’s hours are 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. It is located at 4 Homochitto St.

With temperatures so high, other vendors, like Neames, say the best-selling cool treats around town involve some version of crushed or shaved ice with enough sugary flavor to lift anyone out of a heat coma.

Bellemont Shake Shop

Bellemont Shake Shop owner Suzanne Guido said her younger customers tend to favor ice cream in the summer, but adults don’t miss a chance to cool off with a summertime treat.

She sells more big cups of sweet tea over crushed ice than anything else in the summer, Guido said.

Guido said lots of working-class men come to the shake job for lunch looking for something big, cold and sweet to wash their meal down and last all afternoon.

“A quart of sweet tea over crushed ice is what they’re looking for in the hot sun,” Guido said.

When one person’s coworkers elect him to grab lunch for everyone, the orders come in bulk.

“I’ll get six or seven orders from them — all quarts of sweet tea.”

Bellemont Shake Shop’s hours are 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. It is located at 175 U.S. 61 South.

From March to October, give or take a month in the spring and fall, Miss-Lou residents on both sides of the river have their pick for a place to trade approximately a buck and a half for shaved ice and sweet syrup.

Tropical Treat Sno-Balls

A trailer containing the Tropical Treat Sno-Balls operation stands in the middle of a nearly empty parking lot at Magnolia Mall on D’Evereux Drive.

But late in the afternoon on a hot day last week, cars fanned around the stand, forming a circle around the trailer.

Willie Pree, who has owned and operated the stand for seven years with wife, Shirley, said the stand has more than 110 flavors. But the most popular orders are the classic flavors like strawberry and banana, or a mix of them both.

Unlike many of the snowball stands in the Miss-Lou, the Pree’s stand tops off the cup with a cone of crushed ice shaped by a funnel.

Tropical Treat Sno-Balls’ hours are 1:30 to approximately 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Snow Ball Paradise

Across the river, Snow Ball Paradise serves up all the regular flavors as well as some original, top-secret recipes.

Owner and operator Martie Hoover said The Duet is one of her most popular specialty flavors.

The duet combines Adele — a red flavor — and Beyonce — a gold flavor — to form a tropical-tasting, coral-colored combination.

Snow Ball Paradise’s hours are noon to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from noon to approximately 5:30 p.m. Sundays.

But as the sign outside the tiny stand at the Kiser’s Mobil station in Vidalia warns, “If it’s raining we’re here. If it’s pouring we’re not.”

Vidalia Snowballs

John Floyd, who operated his son’s snowball stand in Vidalia last week, said the most popular flavor is Tiger’s Blood, a red, fruity mixture.

Floyd says he’s old fashioned and prefers dreamsicle, but he tries to lay off the sugary syrup on the clock.

Vidalia Snowballs’ hours are 1 to 7 p.m. daily. It is located at 805 Carter St.

Summer Snow Snoballs

The most popular flavor at Summer Snow Snoballs on John R. Junkin Drive looks and tastes a little like blue Gatorade over ice.

The blue flavor, polar punch, comes in first place, snowball stand worker Lauren King said, and coworker Jessa Novak said Tutti Frutti is a close second.

King said customers often sit in their cars and soak up the air conditioning until it’s their turn to place an order. But once customers have the icy snowball in hand, it’s the perfect remedy and reward for bearing the heat all day long.

Summer Snow Snoballs’ hours are 1 to 6 p.m. daily.