With plenty of winter weather finally at play, I can’t help but think of the countless hours I spent as a child playing in the snow. Sledding down hills. Having snowball fights. Making snowmen. But there was one snow activity I could never seem to master — igloo making. 

Like many of you, I could dig long tunnels into snow piles. I could create makeshift forts that would last… for a while.  I could even create really good snow walls. But a domed igloo? Forget it. My many efforts resulted in the same disappointing collapses. 

As a child, I was intrigued by a commercial for the Sno Bloc Maker by K-tel. “Scoop it, pack it, block it.” Sounded easy. And the igloos on TV looked absolutely amazing. 

“Big kids. Little kids. Moms and dads. Everyone is having fun in the snow.” They sure looked like it. The advertised price was only $2.99, and it even came with an aluminum shaping shovel. What a deal!

I wanted some of this “healthy outdoor fun” and to turn our yard into a “winter wonderland.” Who wouldn’t? So I begged Mom for one, and, lo and behold, it was under the tree on one of those Christmas mornings. My brother Steve and I bundled up and prepared for the snow-building task. We were going to create the biggest, fanciest igloos in town. What we were not prepared for was the variance in snow. The light stuff would not pack well in the Sno Bloc Maker. The wet snow would stick to the plastic. The slushy snow would fall out like potato soup. This was not the winter wonderland I saw on TV. 

We were patient, though, and, one day, we had perfect packing snow. One by one, we produced those snow blocks factory-style and stacked them up, carefully tilting each layer inward so we could properly form the dome until… you guessed it, another collapse.

“Scoop it, pack it, block it.” Right. More like “Scoop it, pack it, crack it,” as that’s exactly what happened to my Sno Bloc Maker by New Year’s Day. 

All has not been lost, though. Decades later when playing in in the snow with my kids, we came up with the idea of using large plastic bins to create snow blocks — and they worked quite well, at least for the first row or two. The weight was a bit much for the upper layers, and the attempts at doming still resulted in the same collapses. It was still a lot of fun and another simple reminder that, despite all our generation differences, some things never change.

Shane Goodman
Editor and Publisher
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