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Day 156: Clayboys – Calder's Cart, Hawaiian Shave Ice

Clayboys on Bethesda Avenue

Summertime (well almost) in Bethesda would not be complete without a visit to Clayboys – Calder’s Cart located directly in front of Barnes and Noble on Bethesda Avenue.  I stopped by today and spoke to the founder Scott Styer about his “authentic Hawaiian shave ice” business.  Some 20 years ago Scott started selling Hawaiian shave ice in Hawaii on the Island of Kauai.  Scott named the business after his son Clay (now 20).  The mobile shaved ice cart is named Calder’s Cart after his second son Calder (17).  Scott’s brother John has been a fixture at the stand for over 10 years but now the next generation of Clayboys (Clay and Calder) will be working the stand this summer.

If you haven’t had a chance to enjoy Hawaiian shave-ice (not shaved) here’s what you have in store.  Hawaiian shave-ice is served all over the Hawaiian Islands and is considered a treat and a real thirst-quencher.  You might think its just like a snow cone but unlike a snow cone, shave ice is not produced using ground ice.  Instead, as I watched Scott prepare my half Cherry and Blue Raz (Blue Raspberry) treat, shave ice is made using a thick block of ice that is spun across a razor-sharp blade to produce extremely thin shavings of ice.  It reminded me of packing a snow ball as he sculpted the ice into my cup.  The shave ice is so thin that the flavorings are absorbed into the ice rather than traveling through the ice like a snow cone does.  Don’t you hate how all the flavor runs to the bottom of you cup in a snow cone?  That does not happen with shave ice and is one reason it’s so popular.  The shave ice is then flavored with syrups.  Scott still gets many of his flavors from his original supplier in Hawaii and these flavors include the aforementioned Blue Raz (the most popular), Cherry, Coconut, Lime, Grape, Banana, Strawberry, Watermelon, Bubble Gum, Lemonade, Vanilla, Tigers Blood (Strawberry and coconut mixed), Root Beer and Green Apple.  Scott’s favorite flavor is coconut (that’s just so Hawaiian!).  A shave ice will set you back $2 for a small, $3 for a medium, and $4 for a large.  You can choose up to two flavors per cup.  Each serving also has one Swedish Fish inside, these are the tasty and extremely chewy (especially in ice) fish-shaped candy.  One word of caution.  If you have any dental work like I do be careful chewing on that Swedish fish or a trip to the dentist might be your next treat!

Flavors Available

A few years back Clayboys, operating under a mobile food service license, had their license revoked by Montgomery County, MD after a licensing complaint.  The complaint was that the operation (while mobile to the degree it’s packed up every night) was not really a rolling moving food operation but really a stationary business.  Some believe Gifford’s, a competitor, was at the root of the complaint.  A huge outcry went up from Bethesda residents who love their Clayboys!  The County was in the cross-fire now and politician’s phones started ringing and letters and emails began pouring in.  In response, Montgomery County changed the permitting process to provide for a new category called a “Site Specific” license, allowing a vendor such as Clayboys and the Bar-B-Q stand at the Bethesda Community Store, to operate for extended periods in the public right-of-way and on private property.  It took a fair amount of effort, as well as a lawyer representing Clayboys, to effect the change but now we can continue to enjoy our summertime passion – shaved ice from Clayboys! Enjoy!      ~Brian

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