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Rainbow Sno serves ice with sweet flavor, smile

By by camille m. doty/
July 5, 2011 at 2:05 a.m.
Updated July 6, 2011 at 2:06 a.m.

Dozens upon dozens of syrup flavors line the walls of the small space inside Rainbow Sno. Employees often mix flavors to create their own concoctions.

HistoryThe origins of snow cones is debatable. Louisiana, Hawaii, and even Texas, all have some claim to fame in its evolution. Some of the first cool treats came from Japanese immigrants when they migrated to the Hawaiian Islands. Samuel Bert, of Dallas, made some of the first snow cones at the State Fair of Texas in 1919, and Ernest Hansen, of New Orleans, invented the first block-style, shaved ice machine. It was patented in 1934. Regardless of where they come from, most would agree they are certainly a delectable delight.

Source: Graphic Interface Design and

Brain freeze Eating cool treats too quickly ... slow down before you get a brain freeze.

Brain freeze occurs when something cold touches nerves at the top of the mouth, which causes blood vessels in the front of your head to swell. This rapid swelling prompts the pain to your brain.

A quick solution? Try to eat slower.

If that doesn't work. Take the underside of your tongue and put it on the roof of your mouth. Apply pressure for 30-60 seconds.

Source: WebMD

Leticia and Fernando Ortega moved to Victoria because it was the land of opportunity. However, they brought a cool idea from their McAllen hometown and opened a portable snow cone stand.

Now, Rainbow Sno is a fully operational blockbuster drive-thru. The store has remained on North Navarro Street at Mockingbird Lane for the last 30-plus years.

Initially, the Ortegas sold 12 flavors. Now, they have more than 100.

Patrons can order treats any way they want. They can even add ice and whipped cream, chili seasoning and pickles.

Some customers order the same strawberry snow treat every day.

"We start making their snow cones before they order," Monica Garcia, an employee, said.

Others are more experimental.

Jasmine Rodriguez said she sometimes mixes two unusually-named flavors, Tiger's Blood and Pickle Juice.

"It doesn't sound that good, but it doesn't taste that bad," she said.

On average, people in 150 cars patiently wait around the blue and white hut for their ice-cold treat. To speed up the process, there are service windows on both sides.

They have a long-standing relationship with some of their customers.

"Parents would bring their kids, and now the kids have become parents," said Leticia.

She also said it's hard to say 'no' to a child.

The close connection the Ortegas share with customers extends to all five of their employees as well. Both Monica and Jasmine are second-generation employees.

"The girls who work for me are pretty much family," Leticia said.

The Ortegas admitted they're semi-retired because they trust their employees and have maintained staying power.

"We've seen other snow cones businesses come and go. And we're still here," she said.



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