Orioles fans traveling to Sarasota for spring training might be surprised to find the most Baltimore warm-weather relief around: a snowball. No, not a snow cone or Italian ice—we’re talking about a genuine snowball.
“You see a lot of adults who smile like kids and a lot of kids who are shocked,” says Eric Garfield, owner of the Baltimore Snowball Factory, whose table is in the concourse of Ed Smith Stadium.
Not surprisingly, Garfield is a Baltimore native. He says he was looking to start a snowball business that could operate year-round and, fittingly, was inspired when an ad for Sarasota came on during an Orioles broadcast. In 2014, he moved down to Florida and opened up the Baltimore Snowball Factory in a storefront just off Main Street.
Garfield did not have to work too hard converting the masses like some snowball-touting evangelist. About one in four people, many of them with Maryland ties, are already acclimated with the cup of shaved ice coated in syrup, he says.
“It’s Florida, so nobody’s native,” he says while working up a sweat during a game against the Minnesota Twins.
The uninitiated, though, are still put off by the one of Baltimore’s favorite flavors, egg custard. But Garfield wins them over.
“They make a face implying how disgusting it sounds,” he says. “Then they eat it, then they buy it.”
Garfield says spring training is “everything” for local businesses, many of which rely on seasonal tourism to sustain themselves.
Once the Orioles head north for the year, Garfield says his plan is to purchase a truck to drive around offering the frozen, tasty treat.
“I’ll be going around like the Good Humor man in Baltimore.”