Mary Auen, the Sno Queen of Englewood, parks her teal-colored truck in a strip mall parking lot in the heart of the South Sarasota County community. Auen can often be found seated at a small table next to the truck enjoying the Florida sunshine and chatting with one of her many regulars, that is when she’s not tending to a small rush of eager shaved ice fans.

THE SNO QUEEN PEDDLES “REAL NEW ORLEANS SNO BALLS” and is as enthusiastic about her snoballs as some people are about their pizza. Auen grew up in Cajun Country, Louisiana and will be the first to tell you there’s a snoball rivalry raging between Baltimore and New Orleans when it comes to the origination and authenticity of these shaved ice treats. Her original idea was to open a gumbo and po’boy truck and she began selling snoballs as a way to fund her intentions. Mary still intends to open a gumbo and po’boy truck someday, but, for now has a ball (pun definitely intended) with the cold, sweet treats. Mary’s snoballs begin with ice made especially for her by the Englewood Ice Plant. Her truck is outfitted with a machine she runs by hand to produce shaved ice that has the consistency and appearance of fresh driven snow. This pure ice is coated with the flavor and, in some cases, a specialty topping of your choice. Then voila, a true New Orleans Sno Ball. The Sno Queen is a popular fixture in Englewood with some of Auen’s regulars driving in from Venice and Sarasota once or twice a week in order to get their fix. She goes to a lot of trouble to make sure that her snoballs are perfect. Her flavorings come from companies in New Orleans and Baltimore that have been in business for over 50 years and has sampled each flavor to make sure they are up to her exacting standards. The honeydew snoball tastes like fresh melon and the hurricane is based on the famous cocktail from Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans. There are so many flavors to choose from that you could visit Auen every day for a month and still not get through them all, but people for the most part find favorites and stick with them. Tiger Blood, the strawberry coconut flavor, is exceptionally popular, but Auen’s personal favorite at the moment is Sno Angel, apple with a hint of grape. There’s a young man who loves to amuse Auen with his outlandish flavor combinations, “I’ll take a mango cotton candy,” he proclaims with a winning smile and Auen rewards him with an answering grin and an exclamation over the interesting selection. This is what it’s all about for The Sno Queen of Englewood. “I grew up on snoballs. They represent happiness and innocence, and when I needed a job, I thought why not do something that allows me to use my memories to create happy moments for others?” We plan to search for happiness in every flavor.