Since the Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, our thoughts turn to snowballs and some of the oldest purveyors of that uniquely New Orleans treat. Hansen's Sno-Bliz has earned a national reputation for snowball superiority. The stand, opened by Ernest and Mary Hansen in 1939, is now run by their granddaughter Ashley. Ernest, a master machinist, built the ice-shaving machine still used there. Mary created the original flavored syrups. Just as revered is Williams Plum Street Snowballs, opened by Sydney Williams in 1945. Donna and Claude Black have owned it since 1979 and serve their product in distinctive "oyster pails" (more commonly used as Chinese food takeout containers). In Old Metairie, Sal's Sno-Balls was founded by Sal Talluto in 1960. The business has been owned since 1992 by Steven Bel, who started working there when he was 8 years old. Any snowball story would be incomplete without George and Josie Ortolano, whose nephew Ronnie Sciortino still runs their SnoWizard company. In 1936, George created his own ice-shaving machine. The company that grew from that creation still manufactures and sells snowball machines and syrups nationwide.