Steve Matzke, the owner of a traveling pirate ship that sells shaved ice, used to be a stockbroker. But in the 2000s, the stress of losing other people’s money wore him down. A friend told him how much money he could make with a Christmas tree lot, so he opened one in Frisco. Then he opened a fireworks stand. After that, a pumpkin patch. That created a puzzle. Matzke wanted an attraction, something for kids, but he also wanted to make money. 

Yevgeny Marchenko, the owner of Plano’s World Olympic Gymnastic Academy and coach of Olympic all-around champions Nastia Liukin and Carly Patterson, had bought his Christmas tree from Matzke for years. “I didn’t know he was famous,” Matzke says. One day Marchenko approached him with a proposal.

“He said, ‘Steve, you always have good ideas. I want to talk business with you,’ in his Russian accent,” Matzke says. “And he was thinking about shaved ice.”

They investigated opening a Bahama Buck’s franchise but decided to go with one of Matzke’s ideas. “I’ve always loved the whole Disneyland facade idea, the putt-putt courses, the fantasy,” Matzke says. He hired an Arkansas company that actually had done work for Disneyland to create his 24-foot pirate ship called Scallywags. It sits on a car trailer with crates and barrels that conceal the wheels and tongue whenever the ship is anchored. The masts collapse for travel, and Matzke takes it to events that range from flea markets to Texas Legends basketball games. 

Matzke says Scallywags’ special storage system keeps the ice extra-soft. He serves 64 made-from-scratch flavors and estimates he’s sold 240,000 shaved ices in four years. The business has been so successful that a permanent ship with a year-round menu is in the works. (Marchenko is still on the board of directors.) Matzke has met with the cities of Frisco and McKinney. It’s just in time, since this is the last summer for Scallywags to dock at its regular location at the corner of Ridge Street and Eldorado Parkway in McKinney. The lot has been sold to a developer. (For hours, check their Facebook page.) 

Aunt Stelle’s Sno Cones

This tiny spot in Oak Cliff sold its first snow cone on May 12, 1962. Since then, fans have waited in line for Aunt Stelle’s famous Pink Lady, a secret family recipe so smooth it tastes like strawberry ice cream. Syrups, such as raspberry, peach, and root beer, are made from scratch. 

The Snow Cone Lady

Despite its fire-engine-red paint, The Snow Cone Lady’s small home in Plano can be hard to find. Set your GPS, but check the Facebook page first. The store closes when the weather is bad, and you won’t find a phone number listed. All of your preferred sweet syrups are there, and they’ll mix in cream or sour cream (for real) on request. 

May’s Ice Cream

Those who struggle with decision-making will have an easier time at May’s, a no-frills restaurant that serves just four flavors of traditional Taiwanese shaved ice in a giant bowl. The language barrier adds to the point-and-test experience. The syrups are blended with layers of fluffy shaved ice and condensed milk. You want the real deal when it comes to toppings. Choose one or two of the 19 options, which include sticky rice balls, taro pudding, almond pudding, and grass jelly. 

Polar Chill Shaved Ice

Owner Tony Atchison’s orange and watermelon ices taste just like enormous Jolly Ranchers. His biggest sellers, however, are tiger’s blood, mango, and wedding cake. The freestanding building has a convenient drive-through, and a truck will show up at your house to cater events. 

Bahama Buck’s

It’s a fantasyland for lovers of snowy creations. It’s popular for its uniquely soft shaved ice and more than 90 flavors of fruit juices and syrups. But the smoothies should not be overlooked. 

Sno Gourmet Shaved Ice

This shaved-ice haven has all of the regular syrups you’ll find elsewhere, plus rare delights such as blue raspberry and orchid cream vanilla. Natural fruit flavors—mango, coconut, and pickle juice—are made in-house. Syrups are added when the snowball is halfway formed, and once more after the ice is piled high. There are sugar-free options, plus you can add fresh fruit if you want to feel a little healthier. 

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