Recipe for Snow Ice Cream From the Blizzard of 1978

Patty collects recipes and gadgets from the past and is interested in early American history, the Civil War, and the 19th century.


A Famous Blizzard Yields a Recipe

One April evening in 1985, Central Ohio was hit with an unexpected one-day blizzard. We had several inches of clean, white snow after a previous day of mild spring temperatures.

With school and workplaces closed, many of us looked back to a long blizzard in 1978 and remembered a recipe for snow ice cream. We made the dessert quickly—because by noon the next day, all the snow had melted.

Photo in nature of a tree like a dish of ice cream.

Photo in nature of a tree like a dish of ice cream.

Using Snow to Make Ice Cream

A traditional Southern and Midwestern recipe from the 1970s calls for only three ingredients of snow, vanilla, and condensed milk—but this results in an overly icy, fast-melting, and weak concoction.

A little experimentation resulted in the following recipe, which is richer overall, and more solid. The original dessert was made on my grandfather's farm beginning in 1870.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

30 min

40 min

Several servings


  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure vanilla
  • Clean fresh snow

I like to chill the metal bowl first in the freezer and then make the ice cream outside to keep the bowl cold and the snow from melting. In fact, it's great to put the bowl down into a mound of snow to hold it still. COLD!


  1. In a large metal bowl, break and beat the eggs briskly.
  2. Pour in the cream, sugar and vanilla all at once.
  3. Stir together and begin adding the cleanest white snow until the ice cream is thick enough for you.
  4. Serve and place the rest in the freezer immediately (because of the raw eggs).
  5. Enjoy the ice cream within 24 hours to prevent egg spoilage. It should be all right in the freezer, unless you take it out and let it sit at room temperature. If that happens, throw it out. Heavy cream can be expensive, so take care of the finished product.

Even in summertime, you can have this dessert by using shaved ice instead of snow to make a refreshing and whimsical dish.

Ice Cream Mix-In Ideas

  • Peaches: Before making the ice cream, remove 1 cup of frozen peach slices from a bag of frozen peaches you have purchased at the supermarket. Set them on the kitchen counter to thaw and as they begin to soften, chop them into bite-sized pieces. Canned peaches are often soft and do not work as well. Prepare the vanilla ice cream recipe as given above and add the chopped peaches at the last minutes. It is fine if they are still partially frozen. Mix gently and serve the ice cream.
  • Coconut: Peaches and coconut are good together in this recipe. Use about half a cup of shredded coconut or a little more, if you like. Mix it into the ice cream when you add the chopped, partially frozen peaches.
  • Chocolate: While I've had no luck with chocolate syrup, which seems to disintegrate the snow ice cream, breaking up fudge brownies and adding them to the vanilla recipe at the end seems to work fine. A squeeze bottle of chocolate shell that hardens on contact also works well.

The Great Blizzard of 1978

The Great Blizzard of 1978 snowed us into our homes for a month, dumping feet of snow on much of Ohio beginning one night after a warm rainy evening. Snow blocked my front door to a height of five feet and I dug out with a broom through a narrow opening I could manage.

January 25, 26, and 27 were the worst days, especially around Columbus and the Great Lakes Area to the north. Ohio AAA stopped taking calls for cars that would not start, beginning on January 25. The auto club trucks were fitted with snow plows and helped free stranded people from their homes.

The U.S. National Guard stated that the storm was nearly equivalent to a nuclear attack in its impact upon the state.

This is about how I looked during The Great Blizzard, after snow plows had done their best.

This is about how I looked during The Great Blizzard, after snow plows had done their best.

Buried Alive in the City

After the first few days of the natural disaster in 1978, we could no longer eat the snow, because it quickly became dirty from removal efforts.

When we could get outside, we walked down the center of the streets, compacted snow and ice being four to five feet high on the sidewalks.

Heavy accumulating snow remained with us in Central Ohio for two months and the majority of residents missed a week or more of work or school. City bus service was free during the worst days and the few restaurants and cafes that could open for business served free coffee to all snow plow operators, tow truck drivers, and protective services personnel.

My Ponderosa Steak House had no heat, but cooking equipment helped somewhat and we worked in coasts, trying to have some fun with the situation.

In Cleveland during the 1978 disaster, barometric pressure reduced to 28.28, the record non-tropical low for America until October of 2010. Friends in that city made it a point to enjoy snow ice cream for several days.

Hard-Hit Ohio Cities

The Amish just west of Columbus used horses during the 1978 snows. In the city, cars were frozen, many of them buried to the top of the windows.

The Amish just west of Columbus used horses during the 1978 snows. In the city, cars were frozen, many of them buried to the top of the windows.


  • 1978 Ohio Statewide Blizzard - Ohio History Central. www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/1978_Ohio_Statewide_Blizzard Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  • Adjutant General of Ohio and Ohio National Guard. Blizzard '78 After Action Report; pp 1 - 42. 1978
  • Dean, L. The long, hungry winter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Star Tribune; February 10, 2014.

© 2011 Patty Inglish MS

Comments and Snow Ice Cream Ideas

daviddwarren22 on October 20, 2011:

Thanks for the information.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on October 02, 2011:

Wow, you are great making fun out this awfyl situation. It sounds great.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 26, 2011:

Pamela99 - Cleveland certainly has its share of snow! friends from there wonder why Columbus schools even have snow days. Thanks for posting.

Chuck - You brought my 1st grade class back to mind, because our teacher also told us about snow and maple syrup. We went to a farm that had maples and produced candy and pancake syrup every year. It was different. Many of the kids had never had maple candy before. Imagine candy from a tree! We had a good time.

Chuck Nugent from Tucson, Arizona on September 26, 2011:

I never heard of snow ice cream but I vaguely remember one of my teachers in grade school talking about pouring maple syrup over fresh snow which caused the maple syrup to harden at which point a person would eat it like candy.

As I recall, my teacher indicated that she liked it but we lived in the city and never tried making this.

Your snow ice cream recipe sounds good but I won't get to try it because, with or without chemicals, we don't get snow in southern Arizona.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 26, 2011:

That was the last year I lived in Cleveland before moving to Jacksonville, FL. I must say I don't miss blizzards! I remember driving by the airport a couple of days after the worse of the storm and the snow was plowed off the road and it was like going through a tunnel of snow as the sides were at least 10' high. As for snow cream, it is delicious. I never tried it with peaches but it sounds good. Very interesting hub.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 26, 2011:

Moonlake - No yellow snow in the ingredients! Eggs will make the final product yellowish lol.

kimh039 - Babies last longer than ice cream!

ktrapp - I look forward to your recipe for Snow Blower Ice Cream in the near future. :)

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on September 26, 2011:

I think I could have made enough snow ice cream to feed the country after last winter! I am hoping that is not the case this year, but I will vote your article useful since your ice cream made me think of blizzards, which made me think winter is coming, which made me think I better get my snow blower tuned up.

Kim Harris on September 25, 2011:

I lived in Ohio, but joined the Army in October 78. Thankfully, I spent October to December in Alabama and Jan to April in Tx. I was however in Denver during the blizzard of 82 - and during that blizzard our first daughter was conceived:) We were making something, but it wasn't ice cream.

moonlake from America on September 25, 2011:

My Mom use to make snow ice cream. We were always told it couldn't be made from the first snow but after that she could make it. We loved it. We would get the snow for her but we had to be sure it wasn't YELLOW.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 25, 2011:

Shaved ice can be fun as well.

And, before anyone thinks of it, probably the snow made at commercial ski slopes is laced with chemicals or something.

Thanks for the comments!

FloraBreenRobison on September 25, 2011:

The snow here wouldn't be clean for every 24 hours, even without mentioning the additives. Never going to have Snow Ice Cream. I might try the shaved ice, though.

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on September 25, 2011:

Oh shucks! I don't get snow here so I can't do this. It's too warm here, I would have to use an icecream maker.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on September 25, 2011:

The old saying "when life gives you a lemon, make lemonade" seems to apply here.Too much ice and snow you made ice cream. very positive outlook.When one lives in the north country they learn to take weather in stride.

Moon Daisy from London on September 25, 2011:

Wow, I've never heard to snow ice cream before, what a good idea, utilising it to make something you can eat!!

There is talk that we might get snow as early as October (hard to believe with this late summer we're having now, and the 25 degrees C forecast for next week!) But if it happens then at least I will be able to make ice cream! Thanks. :)

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