Monday night, while his wife and children waited to choose their snow cone flavors until they were at the window of The Igloo in Hillsboro, Shawn Batterton knew which flavor he wanted before they arrived: buttercream.
It wasn’t his “usual,” instead it was the next flavor on the menu. Batterton is working his way through the menu one flavor at a time, hoping to complete his goal before The Igloo closes for the season at the end of August. With dozens of options, he has quite a way to go.
He isn’t the only customer to meticulously try every flavor on the menu. He said he has heard other customers with the same goal, and a couple working their way through the menu backward.
At the other end of the spectrum are regular customers who know what they like and get the same order every time they visit. One customer that stopped by Monday evening orders black cherry and blue raspberry almost every time and has for the past six years at least, worker Heidi Schroeder said.
“It’s funny, I’ll see people around town and know what flavor they always get,” she said.
Most of the snow cone flavors at The Igloo are sweet, but it is one of the few sour flavors that is surprisingly popular.
“At least every night someone will get a dill pickle,” Schroeder said. “There are a couple young boys who will mix dill pickle with anything.”
Since The Igloo opened for the summer season mid-May, it has had one of its best years in Schroeder’s memory. The opening night had 348 customers, more than one each minute it was open, and there have been a couple of nights like that, she said. By mid-summer, an average night will have 80 to 100 customers.
She thinks it has been so busy because of how early the weather warmed up this year, and also because there hasn’t been much rain when the shop has been open. In rainy weather, there might only be 10 customers in a night.
Schroeder estimates The Igloo has been a fixture of Hillsboro summers for about a decade. This is the third summer since her family bought the snow cone shop, and the previous owner had it for about seven years. She identified two reasons she saw for The Igloo’s sustained success: the product and reliability.
The Igloo has a special machine for shaving ice blocks instead of using crushed ice. The machine produces a fine, almost fluffy “snow.”
For reliability, Schroeder learned the value of keeping regular hours working for the previous owner. Even on the rainy nights that will result in only 10 customers, the shop is open because those 10 customers expect it to be open, she said.
With it being primarily a family business, setting that standard for reliability can make it difficult for the family to get away during the summer, but Schroeder doesn’t mind too much.
“I look forward to it,” she said. “I love working here. It doesn’t get old. I think it’s the best summer job, making snow cones.”
The Igloo’s most popular flavors are probably “silver fox” and “tiger blood.” Tiger blood is a coconut and berry flavor, and customers describe silver fox alternately as tasting like wedding cake, cream soda, or vanilla ice cream, Schroeder said.
Batterton has a while before he reaches either of those. The next flavor on his quest: cappuccino.