She'll be tooling around Berkley this summer offering an urbane take on the street corner classic. Aware of California's distaste for artificial ingredients, Baum has shelved the traditional synthetic Technicolor syrup for flavors she makes from scratch. Her jasmine tea, vanilla bean and strong coffee snowballs are all natural. She even mixes her own marshmallow cream.

It's a bit of an inside joke that she's named her business Skylite, after one of Baltimore's fakest — and most adored — flavors, the one that tastes like raspberry and stains tongues blue for hours.

Though Sandler would consider Baum's $5 snowballs heresy, Californians don't bat an eye.

"People out here, they really want and appreciate and will pay for the homemade stuff," Baum says, adding that when she comes home to visit her folks, she has no problem getting in line for an old-school chocolate with marshmallow at the Tropicool stand on Falls Road.

Last week Snoball Collective waited for snowballs outside Dean's Shaved Ice on Harford Road in Parkville. The threesome, who all grew up in the Baltimore area, and who all are about 30 years old, went for the classics as they talked about their forthcoming zine, which will be available for $4 at local book shops and online.

Sara Tomko chose cherry. For Katie Lambright, it was egg custard. Bruce Blume ordered the ol' skylite.

Richard Weiss, who owns Koldkiss, the Baltimore-based supplier of the syrups that flavor most area snowballs, says that those three flavors — with the addition of strawberry — are his top-sellers. That's been the case for years and years, even though Koldkiss now makes more than 100 flavors.

The Koldkiss website ticks off the modern options like some sort of Willy Wonka-fied experiment in snowballs gone wild. Almond, amaretto, apricot and banana. Blood orange, birch beer, bubble gum and candy apple. Cantaloupe, egg nog, fireball, ice cream, kiwi, mango, nectarine, pink champagne, rum, strawberry cheesecake, tamarind, wedding cake, whiskey sour and wine cooler. If Charlie Sheen stops by Baltimore, there's even tiger's blood (it's an orange flavor).

But to Snoball Collective, snowballs aren't about pink champagne or tiger's blood. They're about memories — a way to scoop the essence of childhood onto a spoon and taste it, fast, before it melts in the sun.

Like for Tomko, who's now a graphic designer living in Hamilton, that taste of cherry ice brings her back to when her mom used to hand her a dollar so she could walk to the neighborhood stand with her dog, O'Malley. If O'Malley was good, she'd spill a little onto the hot sidewalk for him to lap up.

"It's comforting. It's nostalgic," she says. "It's always going to be a part of us."

Snoball Collective's Top Snowball Stands

Friendly Snowballs, 3419 E. Joppa Road, Parkville. They like the ample outdoor seating and the option for an ice-cream/snowball combo.

Walther Gardens, 3501 Southern Ave. They like the history of the place and that the owner will sometimes offer homemade flavors.

Stouten's Shave Ice, 817 Wise Ave. The give the stand props for friendly service, a drive-through window and not skimping on the syrup.

Snoasis, 30 E. Padonia Road, Timonium. Though it's not the cheapest snowball around, the collective says the snowballs are worth it. They also like the selection of diet flavors and the scenic boardwalk-style setting.

Dean's Shaved Ice, 8492 Harford Road, Parkville. They praise the ample pours of syrup, and the charming courtyard that's lit with twinkly holiday lights at night.

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts