A cone of kindness

November 13, 2019

Cherry, watermelon, blue raspberry, root beer, lime, orange and grape. Seven flavors. When Carol Brook began her snow cone business, about 40 years ago, grape was all she had. 

At a small flea market in Tecumseh Michigan, she unintentionally stumbled upon her first snow cone machine. She was serving coffee and ran out of cups. On her search for more, she came across a man who had exactly what she needed… and a snow cone machine. He told her she couldn’t have the cups unless she bought the machine too. It was 80 dollars.   

I went to one of the fellas working with me and I said can we make 80 dollars on a snow cone machine if that’s the way I can get some cups” Brooks said. The snow cone machine was paid off within the following week, and she kept it with her for the next 30 years. 

The market business is one that Brooks knows well. Now 81 years old, she has been in the market since the age of 16. She began at the Eastern Market in Detroit with her parents, selling chickens and eggs. The bustling environment excited her, and even in the winters her family went. 

“I had an aunt and uncle that would set up across from us. He made an old milk can with legs on it and coals in it, a fire so we could keep warm,” she said. “He would put a tea kettle on the top of it to make our own hot chocolate. Wonderful times.”

From the Eastern Market, she moved to Tecumseh, and for the past 35 years she has sold every Wednesday and Saturday at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. 

She came to Ann Arbor to sell blueberries, with 2000 plants at her home in Dexter, she still picks, freezes and sells them. 

“I now have 5 freezers full at home and I’m coming in with the blueberries. People buy them frozen,” she said. 

At her table located on the closest walkway to Sparrow Market, she has baskets of homemade kettle corn, eggs, blueberries, homemade kettle corn and the second snow cone machine she has ever owned. Her seven flavors are laid out, inviting passing shoppers to come and put their own syrup on the icey wonder that sits in her styrofoam cups. Brooks has been in the same location at the Farmers Market for years. She doesn’t care to get a front row spot because the relationships she has formed with her neighbors is one she would never give up. 

“ I like getting my parking place and the children know to come here,” she said.

For 40 years Brooks has served snow cones and she does not plan on stopping anytime soon.  “This has kept me feeling young,” she said. “When I come here I enjoy my day. I didn’t have a huge social life because I didn’t need it. This is enough for me. I love being here, and I love the children I get to see.”

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