Until June, shave ice is forbidden fruit in Provo

Published: Tuesday, May 16 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

Taylor Headman, 14, hoped to open her shave-ice stand early this year for extra money but found an obscure Provo ordinance prohibited selling the treat before June.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

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PROVO — The temperature hit 85 degrees here on Monday, and it could touch 90 by Wednesday. But in Provo, only scofflaws dared turn to shave ice for relief.

After all, the snowy treat is illegal to sell in Provo until June.

"It's kind of a dumb law, I think," said Taylor Headman, a 14-year-old with a portable Snowie machine who wanted to open a stand in time to raise money for an upcoming class trip.

Taylor's father, Justin, is a Provo firefighter. When he and others called this spring to complain about the obscure ordinance, the mayor and City Council took notice.

"It's true. You can't sell shaved ice in Provo until June 1," Mayor Lewis Billings informed the council at a recent meeting.

Billings reacted the same way the firefighter's daughter did.

"I thought it was stupid," he said. "Why do we care if they sell shaved ice before June 1?"

Ordinance 14.35,020 covers temporary land uses, like fireworks stands or Christmas tree lots. "Shaved ice stands" are included, as are "tents for religious services, revivals, retreats, political rallies or campaign headquarters."

Such temporary set-ups are allowed, with proper permits, for up to 30 days, "except shaved ice stands which may be permitted from June 1st to September 30th."

Hawaii is the birthplace of shave ice, commonly and incorrectly known as "shaved ice." And they are not snow cones.

Connoisseurs of shave ice look down their noses at snow cones.

A snow cone is made of ice ground into small, or often large, chunks that don't hold the syrup, which pools in the bottom of the paper cone. Shave ice, on the other hand, is shaved off a big block into flakes described as snowy, fluffy or powdery. This softer ice is much easier to eat and absorbs the syrup.

"It's like snow, so you can eat it instead of like ice, which you have to suck on," Taylor Headman said. "There's more flavor and it's definitely sweeter."

Taylor offers more than 100 flavors.

"After a hot day at the beach," a New York Times travel writer wrote in a piece on Hawaii, "nothing cools and comforts like shave ice."

The same could be true on hot May days in Provo as soon as 2007.

"I think by next year we need to change that law," said Councilwoman Cindy Clark, who, like the mayor and other city officials, didn't know how a past council decided on June 1 as open season on shave ice.

Change will come slowly. It must start with a hearing of the Planning Commission, which must recommend an amendment to the City Council.

The mayor doesn't want to wait that long.

"Since we feel like there is pending legislation on shaved ice, we're not going to enforce the ordinance," Billings said.

It's already too late for Taylor Headman, who makes enough money with her stand and working for the family lawn-care business to pay for most of her clothes and all of her activities.

"We wanted to teach her work ethic, budgeting and accounting," said her mother, Marni Headman.

Taylor hoped to open the stand earlier this month to raise the rest of the $1,100 she needed for a two-week trip to Guatemala that begins Friday.

A budding photojournalist at the Walden School of Liberal Arts in Provo, Headman and the other students at the charter school will explore ancient ruins, visit a marine preserve, hike and deliver books to a sister school.

She raised the money for the trip, but even without the law, her business faced another hurdle. The local grocery store where she was going to open her stand this year doubled its asking price from $500 a month to $1,000.

At $1 per Snowie to $4 for a 32-ounce cup with toppings, that was too steep for Taylor.

She hopes a central Provo gas station will accept an offer for the stand. Meanwhile, she has learned a number of lessons from her enterprise.

One is that you can fight City Hall.

Another is just as time-honored.

"It's all about location, really."


E-mail: twalch@desnews.com

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