Bahama Buck's served its first snowcone in 1990; it now operates 31 stores in three states, with twice that number on the way.

If you are unfamiliar with Bahama Buck’s, it probably won’t be long before you become acquainted with it, seeing how there are 23 new locations of the Lubbock-based snowcone franchise set to open soon in the Greater Houston Area. What started, for me at least, as an occasional treat or break from studying in my college town has become a summer obsession for which I will drive halfway across town from my home and wait in a 45-minute drive-thru line. Oh yes, forty-five minutes. For snow cones.

It does feel slightly ridiculous to brave the crowd that forms daily at the massive new Bahama Buck’s on Atascocita Road, just for a snow cone. However, I (and many others) bypass other snow cone establishments and wait oh-so-patiently for the tiny-umbrella-topped, perfectly shaved ice.

What makes it special? The Bahama Buck’s "snow" is frustratingly difficult to explain to the poor souls who have never tasted it, but the best way to describe it is as less of an icy snow cone and more of an actual snowball with flavor. Trust me, the difference is real. Co-owner Troy Ahrens expresses the same inability to describe exactly what it is that makes the snow so appealing, saying only that it is a “game-changer” in how you see snow cones.

In his opinion, the uniqueness of the product combined with the "mini-vacation" atmosphere that they try to provide in-store is what sets Bahama Buck’s apart. Plus, Ahrens says, once you try it you can’t go back. Troy says the reason he and his partners opened shop is because they had very much the same experience as I did when trying Bahama Buck’s for the first time. In fact, they too found their love for the shaved ice as college students in Lubbock, where the snow cone company originated.

Ahrens thinks the success of their opening will be mirrored by the other soon-to-be Houston locations, simply because you can’t find anything like it at any other place. Although each store will have its own feel, he says the product is what keeps the crowds coming. "People come in because their kids are bugging them every day asking for it," Ahrens says, though I hesitate to call the pestering customers "kids" since I am among them.

Bahama Buck’s offers over 91 flavors—including everything from crème brûlée to pickle juice—of shaved ice along with a variety of extra toppings such as cream, cinnamon, and sprinkles. A common favorite is the Bahama Mama Rama: shaved ice with your choice of flavor, served with ice cream on bottom and cream on top. There are other options as well, such as fruit desserts or coffee drinks, but it appears most come for the snow. Bahama Buck’s island themed drinks and atmosphere are family friendly and make for a fun experience along with a great snow cone. However, you’re liable to wait for it.

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