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Raspados, copos, cepillados or granizados, as they are called in Cuba, snow cones are possibly the easiest refreshment to make. This may be one reason to why—although in various forms and manners—they are consumed world-wide. But the real reason is that with a bit of shaved ice and flavored syrup, they are a delight and the best and simplest remedy for the scorching heat of Cuba’s tropical climate.
In Cuba, granizados go back a long way, as in many other countries. It has always been a common sight to see carts pushed by the “granizaderos”—snow cone vendors—with their blocks of ice and many bottles of syrups of different flavors at each side of the cart. The ice blocks used to be shaved down with metal shavers and then the syrup was added to the finished shaved ice product.
Although snow cones have gone a long way since they became a common sight in the world, and snow cone machines were invented as far back as 1935, in Cuba they are still handmade. Unfortunately, vendors no longer use ice shavers; they crush the ice (also by hand) and therefore the end product is not as smooth as it should be.
Granizaderos can be found anywhere in Cuba, in every neighborhood, near schools, hospitals, playing grounds, parks. Flavors include pineapple, orange, mint, anise and strawberry, among others, many of which come from soft drink mixes, Kool-Aid type.
Every day, granizaderos wake up early in the morning to buy ice and prepare and bottle the syrups. Then begin the rounds in the neighborhood pushing their cart down the streets proclaiming their frozen confections. At the end of the day, the vendors return home with empty bottles, ready for another day.