And the "queen" of the Sno Cream Castle was a Memphian named Edith Humber, who opened her tiny ice-cream eatery and sno-cone shop back in 1964. Despite our steamy summers (some things never change), it was slow-going at first for the fledgling business. In a story about the place that we published in the May 1994 issue of Memphis magazine, written by my pal Dawne Massey, Humber said she made only $30 a day the first few weeks. It wasn't long, though, before sales increased by $10,000 each year for the next decade or so.
The reason for her success? "Because I put my whole life and soul into it, I guess," she said. "The first thing is a good product — you've got to have good food. And you've got to be friendly, and you've got to show the people that you appreciate them."
Humber added hot dogs, hamburgers, and foot-long pronto pups to her menu, but she told us that she never changed her ice-cream recipes over the years. Customers knew better than to even ask for low-fat ice cream or yogurt: "The biggest reason I don't want to change is because people have always asked me why mine tastes better than anybody else's, and I say, 'If you've got something going good, why change?' And it's low butterfat, so it's not real fattening anyway."
Humber said she rarely, if ever, advertised. People flocked to her "castle" because they heard about it from their friends and family. "The kids would save their lunch money at school to come here," she said. "Then they'd go home and tell their parents, 'We had a Rainbow [one of her popular sno-cone flavors]. Then on the weekends the parents would come up and say, 'Do you have something called a Rainbow?' and it would spread like wildfire."
Ill health forced Humber to close the Sno Cream Castle a few years after our 1994 interview. When she passed away in 1997 at the age of 71, the business died with her. It's now a vacant lot. When you drive by there, it's depressing to see what a tiny amount of space it occupied, but boy what a lot of memories it still holds for so many people in Memphis.