Shaved ice comes from holding a block of ice firm and shaving that block with a blade set a certain height above a surface. In the 1800's a wood plane was used and around the turn of the century hand held ice shavers were sold in the Sears Catalog.
Motorized shaved ice machines first debuted in the 1930's in a variety of forms and became popular after World War II. By the 1950's, motorized shaved ice machines were being produced by no less than four manufacturers in New Orleans. Today, there are 2 major producers of shaved ice machines in New Orleans and Japan has several manufacturers that produce about 10 different models.
New Orleans block ice shaved ice machine
If you are in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia or Florida your competitor most likely has a New orleans style shaved ice machine. If you are opening in a town where the New Orleans style shaved ice machine is prominent that is what you need to get.
The New Orleans style shaved ice machine produces shaved ice faster than any other method. The snow is regulated by temperature of the ice, blade sharpness and the pressure applied on the throttle. Some prefer ice in a melt state temperature to produce soft cotton balls of snow. Some have the ice sit in a chest freezer overnight set at approximately 0 degrees F to +5 degrees F. This temperature ice will produce fresh powder snow the same as that preferred on ski slopes. These machines have limited life time warranties. Parts and service is available on the first machine built to the present.
If there is no block ice available and you want to make history in your town, there are block ice makers from $4,000 to $7,000 for shaved ice machines.
2) Japanese block ice shaved ice machine
Japan has several manufactures of shaved ice machines that spin a block of ice over a stationary blade. Each manufacturer has several models of this shaved ice machine available. The Hatsuyuki HF500E is the most popular of these shaved ice machines in the USA. The other Japanese machines have their price controlled by high dollar franchises that much rather sell you a franchise than the machine or the machines do not have the UL and NSF certifications required b some health departments. In Hawaii the Fujimarca is most popular. The Fujimarca shaved ice machine is the least expensive and most durable. This machine is not approved for use in all the states because there is no NSF certification.
The HF500E is a three handed machine that should be operated with a foot switch. The operator wears a plastic glove or a sandwich bag on there right hand to pat the snow in shape while holding the cup with their left hand. The shaved ice machine is turned off and on with a foot switch. This stops snow from falling on a finished product while your hand is going to the machine switch. The foot switch also lessens wear and tear of the smaller machine switch.
3) Japanese cube ice shaved ice machine
Japan has produced cube shaved ice machines. The cubes are not under vice pressure as they pass over a high tech sharp blade. The pressure against the blade is only from the weight of the cube and centrifical force. The Hatsuyuki model HC8E produces 95% shaved ice and 5% small chips. The chips are not noticed and the 95% snow captures the syrup. The syrup stays on top of the fluffy snow and does not bullet to the bottom like the chipped ice of a circus sno cone.
The following factors will help you decide which of the shaved ice machines is best for you:
1) market and competition
2) part time operation or add on to existing
3) mobile operation
1) Market and Competition
To compete in markets using the New orleans style shaved ice machine you will need the same. Other shaved ice machines would be slower or have too much air in the product. The New orleans snow is soft yet dense giving a feeling of "more for your money".
If you plan to duplicate a Hawaiian shave ice operation use the HF 500 E. These machines are popular on the U.S. West Coast.
If there is no block ice available and no competition the HC 8E is the best of the cube shaved ice machines.
2) Part time operation or add on to an exisiting business
The HC 8E is great for coffee shops and food establishments looking for additional afternoon profits.
3) Mobile operation
All three of these machines are available in 12 volt battery operated models. If you are using a generator for 110 volt machines more than half of the time I recommend 12 volt battery operated machines. The HF 500 E is the most delicate of the three machines for mobile use.
Selecting a shaved ice machine based on available operation space is like going into the dump truck business and buying a wheelbarrow. Make space for the proper machine.
There are other shaved ice machines on the market. The following is a comparison of those machines.
Shaved ice machines made by the Gold Medal company (such as the Gold Medal #1087 "Olde New Orleans") are copies of the Southern Snow New Orleans style block ice shaver. Gold Medal machines are made in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Southern Snow machine features:
1) Limited life time warranty.
2) Easy access to blades.
3) Machined surface to mount blades.
4) NSF/UL certifications.
5) Knowledgeable employees to help with problems (phone Southern Snow direct at 1-800-393-8933).
The Gold Medal #1087 "Olde New Orleans" block ice shaved ice machines' features:
1) Six month warranty.
2) The #1087 needs to be removed from it's installation area to access the blades for changing. For permanent installations (such as in mobile units), this requires recaulking the drip pan to prevent leaks after blade changing.
3) The blade mounting surface is a raw casting and the blades rock on this surface. When tightening the blade holding screws, you need to guess where the blade will stop.
4) There are no NSF or UL certifications. In many states commercial use is not allowed.
5) Gold Medal has over 100 dealers. No dealer sells enough of the #1087 to know how many blades are in a set, the price or where the blades can be re-sharpened. Their main business is selling popcorn machines to traveling carnivals.
The Gold Medal copy of the Hatsuyuki HC 8E cube shaved ice machines is the #1027, #1027HD and #1047. The three models are basically the same with more horsepower and a larger frame.
The Hatsuyuki HC 8E features:
1) Cubes rotate in the ice chamber over a superior Japanese steel blade. The only pressure on the cube is the cube's weight and the centrifical force.
2) The ice chamber drains through the center so no water from melting will get to the snow.
3) The HC 8E has NSF/UL certifications.
The Gold Medal #1087, #1027HD, & #1047 features:
1) The ice chamber shape jams ice cubes over the inferior sno-cone machine quality blade. This poor design is why additional horsepower is needed to chip ice. The quality of the blade can only produce chips similiar to all the Gold Medal sno-cone machines.
2) The ice chamber attempts to drain at the rear. The cubes splash through the water as the water drains, resulting in more water in the snow.
3) Only one of these models has a NSF certification.
The Gold Medal copy of the Hatsuyuk HF 500 E is the Shavemaster II. These machines are the most delicate and require precise machining and a quality blade.
The Hatsuyuki HF 500 E features:
1) Precise machine work and construction.
2) Superior blade.
Gold Medal Shavemaster II features:
1) The machine failed in the market.
2) THEY quit making the machine.