Little Freshie (811 West 17th Street) is serving cute by the scoop these days. The soda fountain and espresso bar on the West Side started dishing up Snow Cone Men last week — adorable, edible creations that will melt the heart of even the Grinchy-iest Kansas Citian.
“It’s hard to move snow cones in winter,” barista Joe Hannah, the creator of the modern Frosty, says. “We already had all the pieces in place, it was just a matter of putting them together in a different way.”
Hannah invented the figure last week, drawing inspiration from the cartoonish snow men that dot a level of the Nintendo game Mario Kart 64.
Only five weeks into his time as a soda jerk at Little Freshie, Hannah, 26, wants to be a game designer. He spent a summer interning at Atlas Games and Fantasy Flight Games — a pair of Minnesota board game companies — and currently works as a freelance pixel artist for independent game companies. Pixel art consists of retro-inspired, blocky creations that cheekily honor the early video games from two decades ago. The modern expression can be a bit wacky, a la Hannah’s creation of a pixelated Justin Bieber blasted by ‘lazer kitties’ wielded by a hoverboard riding protagonist in the game Shooting Stars!
“I’d like to release something that makes me enough money so I can work on releasing the next thing,” Hannah says. “Then go on to the next thing and just do that forever.”
To make a snow cone man, Hannah pours a large silver scoop of ice into the ice shaver at the back of the subway-tiled shop.
“You pack the ice into the cup so it’s roughly even with the top,” Hannah says. “You don’t want to pack it too tight or it will be too hard for the syrup to push through.”
He then adds a scoop on top of the packed ice — the belly of the snow man — and a second smaller scoop, typically used for samples, for the head. A pair of rosemary sprigs form the arms, a liberal dose of vanilla syrup lends color and flavor, and a an upside down sample cup becomes a cap.
“One of things I admire about Little Freshie and [owner] Lindsay [Laricks] is that has achieved such a stylish and elegant design,” Hannah says. “Little Freshie is really cute and has had a big influence on my aesthetic. The shape of the Snow Cone Man was appealing to my natural senses. It’s serendipity.”
The Snow Cone Man ($3.50 plus tax) will be on Little Freshie’s menu through the end of December.