Hell Freezes Over in Bywater

Screen Shot 2022 06 09 At 32539 Pm
Credit: instagram.com/chanceinhell_snoballs


“I’m from Louisiana, and growing up, my grandmother was always throwing around that phrase ‘a snowball’s chance in hell.’”

Hence the name for a now-growing pandemic pop-up, Chance in Hell SnoBalls, explained co-founder and co-owner Kitten. She and her spouse Lou (both go by first name only) had been a long-time burlesque performance duo, touring the world’s stages for over a decade, when the pandemic hit and all their shows got canceled.

“We had always joked that when we were ready to slow down, we would open up a snowball stand,” recounted Kitten. “We had come up with the name years ago. As theater people, we’re always coming up with clever show titles and stage names, and this seemed like a clever name for a snowball stand.”

During their forced hiatus, “a second-hand SnoWizard sort of popped up in our life. We got it mostly for fun, just to make snowballs for our neighbors.”

The first batch came out in late May 2020, when the shutdown was in full force and the weather was heating up. The pair just walked around the neighborhood and tacked up a few flyers, inviting people to pass by their front porch for some sweet treats.

“The first weekend, we had thirty people come by,” recalled Kitten. “The second weekend it was seventy people, and the third weekend we had a line around the block. It became a real community hub, a way for neighbors to see each other safely, to have a little bright spot in the pandemic. And it was a way for us to see our neighbors’ faces.”

Fast forward two years, and what started as a lark is a successful business, serving some 600 snowballs each weekend. Chance in Hell SnoBalls are still distributed from that front porch at France and Burgundy in the Bywater, but this fall, the enterprise will move into a real storefront, nearby at Dauphine and Louisa. The immediate area is already home to several other businesses, meaning there will be plenty of foot traffic to augment the faithful following the pair has already built up.

That timing is interesting, given that conventional wisdom says New Orleans snowball season runs from March to October. Kitten is unsure about whether Chance in Hell will operate outside that window. While their license will allow them to serve other food and add alcohol to the snowballs, she and Lou are still performing, and put on some of their larger shows over the holidays and during the winter months. Still, they are contemplating staying open on a longer schedule.

“Snowballs weirdly kind of fit perfectly into our performing life,” Kitten noted. “We close up around 6:00, then put on our stage costumes and go over to the AllWays Lounge for our shows.”

In addition to its dual-career proprietors, one thing that really distinguishes the Chance in Hell snowballs is the ingredients and flavors. All the syrups are hand-made from natural and primarily local ingredients.

“We make them with real cane sugar and real fruit,” explained Kitten. “You simmer them slowly, and add in the herbs and extracts. Then there is a lot of straining. But it’s all worth it.”

The house specialty is a fairly popular New Orleans standard called nectar crème, made with organic vanilla and almond extracts. But more exotic flavors such as ginger-basil-plum or pistachio-lemon crème are not found in your typical snowball stand. The menu changes almost every week, based on the availability of ingredients, and Kitten has a special Halloween flavor planned for October: the “Vampire Slayer”, comprised of black garlic, chocolate and molasses.

With the business having succeeded entirely by word of mouth (literally) thus far, there are no plans for advertising or even a website. Inquiring taste buds can find the latest flavors and upcoming hours of operation via the Chance in Hell Instagram account.

While snowballs are a great New Orleans tradition, not everyone is a fan of these sweet concoctions. By taking a different approach, Kitten hopes that Chance in Hell SnoBalls can convert some of the naysayers.

“We make snowballs for people who think they don’t like snowballs!” she proclaimed.




Categories: Neighborhood Biz