Photography by Jessica Turner.

Snowbaby is a healthy marriage of snow cones and ice cream

Healthy desserts have been trending for a while. With dairy-free, gluten-free, organic and no-sugar-added options, there’s something for everyone. To compete with all the available goods on the market, one Lakewood neighbor had to get creative. 

The Snowbaby story started when founder Chrissy Kuo tried Taiwanese shaved ice. She thought it was delicious and noticed the few shops offering it in Dallas were marketing treats toward the Asian community. Doing research, she discovered that the shaved ice contains high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.

“I’m a ’90s kid. I’m totally OK with junk in our food,” Kuo says. “But whenever I started having kids, I realized, hey, you know, all this stuff that’s in our food is not very good for us.” 

There had to be a better, healthier option. 

Kuo spent a year developing the vanilla flavor. She had to test recipes and make sure the texture and consistency were perfect – creamy, refreshing and satisfying. While she was working full time and raising kids, she tested her creations at carnivals and other events to see if the treats appealed to other demographics. They did. 

“I started to get a following, and I was encouraged,” she says. “I’m like, OK, this is something different, and it benefits everybody because it’s actually as healthy as you say.” 

Kuo opened her business in Lakewood Shopping Center and called it Snowbaby.

“Imagine if a snow cone and an ice cream had a baby,” she says. “It’d be a snowbaby.”

Families are the main customers at the shop, but Kuo is also hoping to ramp up the catering business. She bought a used snow cone trailer on Facebook, but it was stolen right before spring break. She just got a little food truck to replace it. 

Customers can pick from an already-designed creation or build their own treat. The most popular creation is birthday cake, which features vanilla snow, sweet milk, fresh strawberries and natural rainbow sprinkles colored with fruit and vegetable juices. Her go-to order is the coconut snow with vanilla cake bites from Unrefined Bakery, sliced almonds and sweet milk. 

Snowbaby is offering seasonal flavors for summer: pineapple, lemonade, key lime and horchata.

“Our mission is to provide healthier treats to feed your inner foodie,” Kuo says. “And to create memories.” 

Snowbaby, 6404 Gaston Ave.

Servings are less than 120 calories, but that’s not why neighbors visit TCBY

TCBY has been a Lakewood dessert shop for more than 20 years. Since 2001, it’s been run by Doug Sanders.  

Sanders is no stranger to the frozen yogurt business. He studied architecture at Texas Tech but changed his career path after college. Sanders headed to Durango, Colorado, where he opened a frozen yogurt shop. Eventually he moved back to Dallas. A few years later, he purchased a TCBY. He knew it was a good location, having grown up in town and graduated from Lake Highlands High School. 

The Lakewood location is the only remaining TCBY in Dallas, and Sanders says some customers drive 30 miles to get their hands on the frozen yogurt. Not even a pandemic could slow down demand for the treats. Neighbors helped the TCBY see its highest revenue last year, and it’s on track to exceed that this year. 

“I knew it would be a good business, but nothing like it is now,” he says. 

Since the emergence of self-serve yogurt spots, neighbors want to customize. Sanders says many customers stop by to order multiple flavors mixed with multiple toppings. 

By far, the most popular yogurt flavor is vanilla. There’s also a strong appreciation for the white chocolate mousse and coffee. Fresh strawberries are the most common toppings, and kids like rainbow sprinkles and gummy bears. 

He says what sets TCBY apart is its health benefits and “fantastic flavor.” The soft serve yogurt contains seven types of live and active cultures, calcium, protein, fiber and vitamin D. Plus, each serving contains no more than 120 calories. 

“I don’t think most people come in for the health aspect anyway,” Sanders says. “It’s just because it tastes great.”

In addition to soft serve, TCBY has hand-scooped yogurt and sorbets. . Cakes and pies are available for special occasions. 

For its 40th anniversary, TCBY sold a birthday cake hand-scooped flavor. The brand also released special cups to mark the occasion. Toward the end of summer, keep an eye out for scratch cards to receive additional rewards.

“I think people like being around a vibe that’s doing well,” Sanders says. “When you’ve got that many people coming in here, usually the vibe is good.”

TCBY, 6402 E. Mockingbird Lane

Josie Ice Cream & Grill serves Latin American favorites using local produce

Oraldo and Josefina Guerrero have a long history in the food industry. They both worked in restaurants in the U.S., where they met. They fell in love, got married and decided to open a business. In 1988, Josie Ice Cream & Grill opened its doors on Capitol Avenue.

The idea to sell fresh fruit and complement it with ice cream was a natural move. Before she moved to the U.S., Josefina had her own fruit stand and juicery in her home country of El Salvador. 

Josie moved to Fitzhugh Avenue about three and a half years ago. The Guerreros continue to own it, and their kids, including daughter Jocelyn, also work at the store. 

“I think a lot of our customers kind of like to sit down and enjoy with their families,” Jocelyn says. “Ice cream to go is kind of weird.”

The business does serve food, like pupusas and tacos. But most people come in for dessert. Ice cream, banana splits and milkshakes are typical finds in dessert shops. But many of Josie’s offerings are less common. They’re homemade, traditional Latin American desserts.

The drinks satisfy a variety of tastes and preferences. For those who love a kick, there are rusas and mangonadas. Rusas are citrus-based sodas spiked with chamoy or chili powder, and mangonadas are frozen mango drinks with chamoy or Tajin. 

For those who would rather have sweet beverages, Josie offers aguas frescas, which are displayed in large, clear tubs right by the cash register. They’re made with water, a little bit of sugar and fresh fruit. Cool and refreshing, they come in a bunch of flavors, the most popular being mango pineapple and cucumber and lime. Oraldo particularly likes the banana and papaya. 

Licuados are another option. They’re similar to a milkshake, just not as thick, and they contain real fruit. Jocelyn says they’re one of the more popular orders during the summer.  

All of the produce is bought at Dallas Farmers Market. It’s used to make the store’s many fruit-based offerings, including fresh-pressed juice. Green, carrot and orange juices are usually on hand, but the staff is happy to make custom drinks for guests. The Guerreros are looking for more ways to experiment with fruit. One idea is to add it as a topping on snow cones, along with condensed milk. 

“I think it really goes down to the roots of your everyday if you’re in Latin America,” Jocelyn says. “And we try to represent that, have a little taste of the homeland in the U.S.”

Josie Ice Cream & Grill, 500 S. Fitzhugh Ave.