For years, a whole lot of years, The Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine has delighted millions. The ability to create flavored ice shavings with very little adult supervision is something every kid pined for, and if the equipment used to do that just happened to be shaped like Snoopy's doghouse, then that's just the gravy baby. Though nowhere near as popular as it was sometime ago, The Sno-Cone Machine is still sold at most toy stores, usually for under fifteen bucks.
If the mere mention of an ice-slicing wet candy machine isn't enough to sell you on the idea, here's a pictorial guide to the beast itself. I haven't played with a Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine since I was young enough to do it without feeling embarrassed, so for all intents, I'm a rookie. A born again rookie, with all the tools necessary to transform simple ice cubes into colorful snacks.
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To my delight, I found all the assorted parts still sealed in their baggies upon opening the box. Whenever you buy something like this, there's always going to be some level of fear that a small child originally bought it before their parents took it back for a refund. As much as I wanted a Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine, I wouldn't have taken it to the register with the prior knowledge that the parts were covered in kid saliva and filthy, filthy fingerprints. Seeing those baggies meant the world to me. You know what else means the world to me? Fluorescent lightbulbs. Shit never gets so hot that you can't touch it. And make no mistake - you pass an uncovered bulb, you're going to need to touch it. We're born with that instinct, it's right up there with being afraid of loud noises and yawning whenever someone else does. To tie these last few sentences to Snoopy, I should also mention that lightbulbs were often drawn in old Peanuts comics whenever Charlie hatched a great idea. And there it is.
Chuck loves the stuff. I wonder if we'll love the stuff? Does anybody out there know if we're going to love the stuff? Seers, take a stand.
Before you can cut and carve and mutilate the ice, you've got to prepare the flavored syrup. The box includes a packet of Flavor-Aid drink mix, the primary ingredient in Snoopy's Syrup. Fortunately, mine was cherry-flavored. I say 'fortunately' because I'm pretty sure I remember Flavor-Aid once selling a banana/lime mix. That's one ice I didn't want to know. Another would be Ice T, mostly because he was so convincingly frightening as a mutant kangaroo in Tank Girl. All other ices are kosher, like a cheeseburger where the cheese is held.
The formula: in a mixing bowl, combine the Flavor-Aid, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar to taste. I don't have a mixing bowl, so I just stirred the crap together in a tea cup. I hope this doesn't ruin Snoopy's sno-cones.
When finished, the mixture should be a little thicker than water. Not too much thicker, that would be crazy. Carefully, you then empty the syrup into the included Snoopy figural dispenser, topping it with a rubber red dropper that looks like it'd be terrific to chew on. The dispenser also doubles as the device that holds down the ice while you maul and destroy it.
The instructions make a point to tell you that the machine can only handle a single ice cube at a time. DON'T YOU DARE PUT TWO IN, SNOOPY CAN'T HANDLE IT. And while they don't mention this, I'll give you another tip: don't put the ice in sideways. Don't get cute. Place it in the same position as it sat in the ice cube tray. And remember, ice cubes don't last forever. Don't dilly daddle or get all involved in reading a mail-order catalog while using the Sno-Cone Machine. When ice melts, hearts grow colder.
Here's the tricky part - you've gotta use the contraption shown above to crush the ice. Rotating the handle in a clockwise position, you must complete this mission with stealth and accuracy. That ice is a ticking time bomb, just waiting to change it's elemental state. Breaking the ice down into smaller, rougher pieces of baby ice is actually a lot harder than you might think. Especially if you forget to put the four included 'grip stickers' on the bottom of the machine. Like I did. I feel like Charlie Brown when he couldn't get the loaf de bread out of the bakery without cracking it in half in the doorway. Only my sister's hairdo doesn't look like a Klingon warship.
As you crush the ice, it's shaven down into flaky morsels of angel frost. The frost collects in the shaver's hollow tube, occasionally spilling out onto the table if you forgot to put one of the paper cups under the hole. It's amazing how much shaved ice you get from one cube - usually a full cup's worth, if not a little more. Normally, it'll take around 25 shave rotations to completely shred the ice, but that's only if you're doing it with rage. Those with a lighter touch may need to go for 40-50 rotations. If you buy the machine and count your own personal number, it's a good indicator of your demeanor and a possible window to your psyche. If that's not enough for you, they even threw in a tiny Woodstock sticker to decorate the machine with. For every dollar you spend on the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine, there's a reason to justify it.
When finished, you then use Snoopy's magical plastic red shovel to pull the ice out of the machine and into one of the paper cups. It's a project of finesse, made easier if you hum 'Workin' on the Railroad' while doing it. After placing all the needed ice in a cup, shaping it to fit your vision, it's finally time to make it taste like CA - CA - CANDY. Good thing we filled Snoopy up with holy syrup before shaving that ice!
The syrup tries hard to make the ices look like the ones shown on the box, but the coloration never seems to match. It looks more like a frozen cup of boxer's spit than a cherry ice, but no worries - it tastes like heaven. That's why it's called angel frost. That's why the straw character on the package of Flavor-Aid is shaped like a cross.
Of course, using syrups of other flavors affords you the chance to create sno-cones in a whole rainbow of colors. Snoopy has all the bases covered, plus a tail.
Sincerely, it's one of the best toys ever made. Simple, fun, shaped like a doghouse. The shovel accessory and stack of paper cups help round out the pros, but the machine itself is an unmatched thing of beauty - and better than most things of beauty because most things of beauty can't throw up cherry-flavored angel frost. If you have kids, they'll love it. If you don't have kids, make one so you can buy the thing without feeling as stupid as I did. You never know when the company is finally going to pull the plug on poor Snoopy, so don't take a relaxed approach to his Sno-Cone Machine. Buy it now, before it's too late. Your life isn't worth a biography until you've made dessert with the Peanuts gang and thwarted the Red Baron. A+.