Finally, Kids Get The Help They REALLY Need (Making Snowballs)

Let’s hear it for this $9 investment! Because kid-formed snowballs are too hard to make. To deal with. To live amongst. And tiny hands get cold making snowballs. And tiny gloves get soggy. And tiny brains think that this is suddenly a big problem.  And bigger brains think, “Parents will buy ANYTHING, if we can worry them enough. Woo hoo!”

Coming next (I predict): the freezer-to-yard snowman.

59 Responses

  1. Oh thank God! Now I won’t have to make my kids hot chocolate to warm them up when they come in. I’m constantly fearful that their little hands will be burned by the searing cups of lukewarm liquid.
    Seriously, my three-year-old has been talking about winter since the weather started to turn cold, and is unspeakably excited to think that this year she can make her own snowballs. When I saw that this contraption was invented by a “Dad” I threw up in my mouth a little. I shudder to think of his two boys asking the question, “Mommy, why does Daddy hate fun?”.

  2. Someone in our neighborhood (maybe our family, maybe someone else) had one of those when I was a kid. What was great about it was that it extended your arm so you could REALLY fling the snowballs, heh. 🙂 (like those dog-tennis-ball throwers)

  3. My kids figured out last year that they could make bigger, better and harder snowballs by using our ice cream spade to help form them. ha ha.

  4. Years ago, someone gave our family a snowman kit for Christmas. While a sweet gesture, I had an immediate aversion to the idea that children didn’t need to rummage through closets and frig to find the makings of their snowman. The kit’s marketing said “just add snow!”

  5. Ugh, I had one of these as a kid and I HATED it. Not only is it stupid and unnecessary, but it doesn’t work. At all. The two halves have a hard time making one ball.

    But Allison is right, one the rare occasions when it would work (or when you were desperate and put your own snowball in it), it was like an atlatl.

  6. oh puh-lease.

  7. Katy’s exactly right – what better way to whip ice balls at your brother than with half a snowball maker.

  8. They already have all-weather snowmen. They’re inflatable.

    Just steal the ice cream scooper out of the kitchen. Though I find it slower and not worth the trouble. Don’t worry, mom’ll find it in the yard after the thaw.

  9. I’m slowly arriving at the conclusion that some mothers just need to give birth to 30 year old children so they don’t have to go through the trauma of letting them be kids.


  10. “so they can’t hurt like hand-packed snow balls.”

    Geez, that takes ALL the fun out! They are supposed to hurt!

    One of my kids come home from the park crying because her hands are so cold. We warm them up and life goes on. Somewhere along the line they really DO need to learn that snow is cold stuff, and cold stuff can hurt if you take your gloves off, or don’t come inside at that point just before you’re suddenly frozen solid.

    Or is there a market in this? I could make ready made snowballs and sell them – a platter of 20 in a pyramid shape for £5. With one of those dog ball throwers for tossing them.

    Or maybe just hire a dwarf to go out and be your child’s proxy while your child stays safely indoors where he should be. Until he’s 25.

  11. To paraphrase (or “remove the cuss word”) George Carlin: “Nail to pieces of s**t together that have never been nailed together before, and someone will buy it.”

  12. Sorry: It’s “nail TWO pieces of s**t.”

  13. If someone could make a device that would actually make snowballs faster than children can do it on their own, I would think that could enhance snowball fights. More fighting, less making time sounds good to me! Now… off to invent that unsafe device instead…

  14. Okay, I’m even more bothered by the fact that this is marketed for 5 years old and up. Why? It’s salad tongs for snow. I guess kids under 5 have to suffer through cold hands and wet mittens. Or maybe those under 5 are not old enough to engage in snowball fights or even go outside in the winter.

  15. I had seen these products before but never with the accompanying “safety” language. I just thought they were a slightly goofy device, it didn’t even occur to me that people might be using them to protect children from the hideous dangers of snowballs.

    Snowballs! America’s New Menace

  16. Wow. I admit, I thought it was actually cool until I read about it.

    I had a snow block maker when I was a kid (or somebody on the street did). It wasn’t necessary but it made snow fort making much easier. I thought this was along the same lines.

    I pictured 2 teams, poised to attack, some building the fort, others amassing a huge arsenal of snowballs with this device. Now that I know they’re “soft” snowballs, that’s kind of stupid.

    But what do I know – my son is only 2 so I guess I’m not supposed to take him outside at all.

  17. What surprises me is this–that they would make something like this at all, after all, the last thing hardly anyone outside the Lenore Free Range Universe (you like that?) would advocate kids being outside playing snowball-type games anyway.

    Vinny, how true. Gossiping about my in-laws who watch our nieces-nephews–yesterday, they wouldn’t let them outside during the day (about 4 p.m.) because it was supposedly “too cold.” Moments earlier, we had seen kids about the same age in the same neighborhood riding their bicycles free-range. Moments AFTER, we saw kids playing outdoors in the yard–with short-sleeves.

    Like you said–*sigh*.


  18. I would buy it if we could use it for something else during the rest of the year, the way we reuse our summer sandcastle kit for making fairy castles in the snow. Unfortunately, at our latitudes, if you want your hands to be really warm, you have to wear wool mittens–which snow will stick to; if you want to make snowballs without de-boltering your mittens every five minutes, you have to wear cotton or synthetic–which is frickin’ cold as soon as it gets wet. What we really need are mittens that are poly on the outside and wool on the inside. I’ve seen some made the other way around, but not with wool next to the skin.

  19. My local (Canadian) toy store sells this item as well, but the descriptive language is much different:

    “Keep your hands warm this winter while you make your snowballs! This handy snowball maker makes them for you easily. Make perfect sized snowballs every time and make them quickly, too! It’s your perfect secret weapon for your next snowball fight. Get outside this winter and enjoy the snow! Don’t forget your snowball maker!”

  20. @Jennifer, I agree that a store-bought snowman kit is an irksome idea. But years ago a family we know put together home-made snowman kits as holiday gifts for friends, and that was a sweet thing. They created the parts out of carved foam, colored foam sheet and the like, added clothes pins as “pegs” to shove into the snowman, and hand-painted the parts. They did include a plastic, store-bought top hat (which also functions as storage for the parts), but we liked it and have used it a couple of times. One still does have to find some properly branchy branches to serve as arms.

  21. huh. i was thinking along the same lines as many of you — this would build a snowball arsenal MUCH faster (something i always needed as a kid). but i’d probably pass on this b/c i wouldn’t want to give the kids any advantage!

  22. The people who buy these for their kids are most likely the ones who bought the baby wipe warmers people kept telling me I needed.

  23. My dh has used one of these, and says it’s great for building a huge arsenal much faster than hand-packing them.

  24. I used my mom’s metal meat ball maker. I had to dunk it in water to get the snowballs out. And that pretty much made them ice balls. Awesome!!

    Every winter my Tupperware disappears as my kids use it for fort making.

  25. I would think that this device would take the spontaneity out of snowball fights–unless you just kept this with you under your coat every time you went out in the snow.

  26. Donna, my thoughts exactly…. I can get my 5 yo to wear gloves in winter because he knows it is cold, but reason does not work with a Under 2 yo

  27. Yes–I’ve seen these around since I was a teenager–but the safety angle is new. I always understood this device to be primarily designed to improve one’s assault capability, not to protect delicate hands from cold.

  28. Here is a description on Amazon for a similar device:

    There’s an art to making the perfect snowball: it has to be compact enough to travel far, and aerodynamic enough to throw accurately. Enter the Flexible Flyer snowball maker, which makes it easy to shape the ideal snowball every time. Designed to make a precisely round snowball in roughly a second, it’s perfect for on-the-fly snowball fights or for kids who want to prepare an arsenal before the big showdown begins. The snowball maker–which includes a molded handle for easy use–measures 15 inches long and 4 inches tall when closed. It’s recommended for ages 4 and older.

    Better, yes?

  29. Come on… everybody knows that you get hard snowballs from packing snow and soft snowballs from powder. I can’t imagine that this would actually make safer snowballs like he claims.

  30. LOL!! I take it this was sarcastic article by Lenore. What’s next, a device that ties kids’ shoes for them? Or a device that does all the childhood part of growing up so the kid doesn’t actually have to experience it themselves? The best part about winter is getting in the snow, making snowballs and building snowmen with your own hands, and yes…even getting “soggy” from playing in the snow. And it IS snow, it’s suppose to be cold, which means if you aren’t wearing proper gloves or mittens, your hands WILL get cold after a while. Kids have been dealing with this for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Civilization hasn’t fallen yet where it snows. Plus one can argue that if the child’s hands doesn’t get cold from the snow, it will from holding a cold piece of metal. One can also argue that that piece of metal can be used as a deadly weapon (thinking along the lines of paranoid parents). Plus it’s free to make a snowball by hand. As well, everyone knows, to make a perfect snowball, you need packing snow. And to make it less dense (so that it’s not so hard), you just don’t pack it so tight. Doesn’t take genius to figure that out. Even with that contraption, with fluffy snow, you can’t make a snowball that won’t disintegrate as soon as you throw it. And like some have pointed out, would you really want your kids carrying this thing every time they go out, just in case they want to make a snowball? It’s a cash cow, as Andy posted…“Nail to pieces of s**t together that have never been nailed together before, and someone will buy it.”

    But I do like the fact that you can make relatively “perfectly” round snowballs. When I was a kid, that was one of the things we used to do, see who can make the most round snowball.

  31. Without even clicking the link I know *exactly* what you are talking about! Its the snowball maker from One Step Ahead, right? I saw this in their catalog and showed it to my husband as the perfect way to “sissify” our sons. I realized that like half that catalog is useful stuff, and half is stuff to make your kid into a big wimp. What is this world coming to???

  32. What?
    This snowball maker isn’t automated?

    Today I expect high tech…a gadget to pop-out snowballs any size, any weight I designate.

    And… Isn’t it time for Electric Page Turners ?
    All schools would of course waste your tax dollars on them to protect their dear students from getting paper cuts. Lawsuit precaution, you know. Can’t be too careful.

  33. So let me get this straight: the snow ball will stay together but disintegrate on impact because it is not packed as much? Doesn’t this depend on how wet the snow is? I hope there is a long label of instructions to explain what to do in such cases.

  34. I could see buying something like this as a college student. One of my friends when I was in school had one, and damn did his team always win our capture the flag/ snowball battles du to the ease of snowball creation. The description on his was more like the one kcs and rebecca posted, showing it as a great tool for making lots of snowballs quickly. Seriously, why do snowballs need to be safer?

  35. Thank you for sharing yet another item that I never knew I never needed.

    I am in anti-consumer heaven.

  36. In addition to those ridiculous training wheels, put a handle on your little one so he/she can better learn the fine art of bike riding! Good grief people!!

    I got more laughs from “Leaps & Bounds” than from the Sunday comics…..

  37. We actually have tested this product or one like it, and it’s horrible and unsatisfying for kids to use. The balance is wrong, and the snowballs actually disintegrate before the kids can throw them. We played with kids ages 5-11, and everyone of them was frustrated with it for different reasons, mostly because it didn’t work. The one we played with was also very cheap, and younger kids didn’t have the dexterity to use it.

    The other problem is that it turns kids into snowball manufacturers, rather than crafters. Now, I know that probably sounds insane, but different snow has different consistencies, and learning how to make a really good snowball comes from getting your hands in the stuff. Do you pack it tight to do damage? Or do you make them quickly and less compressed for speed? You know what that’s called? Play. This implement effectively removes one whole aspect of creativity and interaction from the play.

    I don’t think the readers of this blog are the target demographic for this product, and certainly not from the comments I’ve read. But the important thing with our kids is to look at the whole experience and realize that every time we put a piece of technology or a product between a kid and an experience, that experience is altered–and not always for the best. I know that’s a little heady for a snowball molder, the principle is sound. The mechanized, perfect snowball takes the individual kid out of the play experience.

    Besides, what’s wrong with getting wet and soggy in the snow? Wasn’t that the point? Didn’t you stay out until you were soaked through and the tips of your mittened fingers were covered with ice? Then, you got to come inside and get dry and warm again, only to watch the sun go down and the snow turn violet in the last light of the day, and go to bed hoping there would be more overnight so you could do it all over? Is there anything that so completely transforms the world to a kid as much as a blanket of snow? But I digress…

  38. That snowball packer looks like a great idea except for the part where it makes soft “safe” snowballs instead of hand packed “dangerous” snowballs. Now if someone would invent a snowball packer that packs hard dangerous snowballs, this thing would be really convenient for amassing an arsenal before an epic snow battle.

  39. My husband is, to put it mildly, completely disgusted that this was created by a DAD for his SONS.

  40. Now Lenore. You know I’m a fan, and I mean this in the sweetest possible way. Don’t be such a fuddy duddy. Gadgets like these contraptions are fun for kids the way kitchen gadgets are fun for adults. Of course they are redundant to actually taking the time to make the item with your bare hands, but it gadgets aren’t about being organic. There can be just as much imagination put into plotting a wall of perfect Sno-baller snowballs to launch at your poor unsuspecting mother as anything else. I know, because I’m am the victim of such a Sno-baller attack. Gadgets can be just plain fun. Why pick on such a low tech item?

  41. Okay, I have to defend the Sno-baller. One Christmas my kids were begging to get them, and while Mom & Dad thought it sounded stupid, Santa kindly put them in the stockings. They love them. They’re sturdy and great for creative play. For example, my kids will put small stuffed animals in them and zoom around, pretending like they’re in airplanes.

    Sure, I agree that if someone buys this gadget to shelter their children from snowball-making, that’s pretty stupid. But my kids wanted them & they STILL love them. Getting all in a dither about how stupid a plastic gadget is sounds, well, a little uptight for you Lenore!

    Also? They make really perfect-looking snowballs. There’s something perversely satisfying about that. 😉

  42. Too bad it doesn’t come with batteries. Sheesh.

  43. Why do snowballs have to be perfect ??
    Kinda takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it ??

  44. They should use this instead, so they can throw the snowballs for their dog.

  45. Who has time to make the perfect snowball during a snowball fight as you run, make one on the fly and hurl it and race to build your snow forts and make/hurl another?

    (fwiw, I speak from experience: I’m a Canadian who grew up in the days when the fights got so big that the police would roll by to break them up, gently and with good humor, as I recall. Mostly we were just blocking traffic, 50-100 kids or so after school. We also played a lot of “king of the mountain” right behind the school, where the snowplow dumped its tailings, during recess and lunch break.)

  46. Are you kidding me?!

  47. My wife bought one … but she just thought it was something the kids would like to have. I think I ran over it. Stupid thing anyway.

  48. Laugh if you like, but I would have killed for a way to make snowballs that perfectly round as a kid.

  49. Hey now, my nieces LOVE this thing, and actually it’s really helpful in “leveling the playing field” as far as little ones fighting their older sibs. They still make the other kind of snow ball too, so it’s not as if they’re dependent on the thing, and it’s another toy to play with outside.

  50. Hey … it’s an AWESOME snowball maker. My husband and I were able to provide ammunition for a whole winter camp-wide snowball fight within just a half hour or so. We don’t let our kids use it … oh no! It’s for the adults baby!!! It was amazing. Don’t hate the tools … be happy that the kids are outside playing in the snow to begin with!! xoxoxoxo

  51. Nicole – I bought a baby wipe warmer so that I could change my son without waking him up. Once I got the nasty diaper off of him, he would go to sleep. But if the wipe was cold, he’d wake up and scream bloody murder.

    The warmer was for me and my wife, not for him.

  52. Some of the reviews of this contraption are even scarier/funnier than the item itself.

  53. Although, I do have to say that at least this product assumes that children like to go outside in the cold and throw snowballs. This in a world where they’re banning sledding.

  54. Eh, don’t think of it as a safer snowballer. Think of it (like we did) as a way to make a large number of iceballs quickly, when you use it in slushy snow. It’s like an arms race: technology exists, and can be easily subverted by those with some ingenuity. I’d certainly be in favor of my kids having more snowballs than the enemy. 😉

  55. Oh Jesus, is this for real? I’m all for making sure bratty kids don’t stick rocks in snowballs, but that’s just ridiculous! And kids whose parents make them use this won’t be able to fight back against the kids with the hard packed ice ones D: Totally unfair!

  56. Brian, if you’ve got two hands, you can make a warm wipe. It’s really not that hard. Just rub your hands together with the wipe between.

    Plus, having a container of water with an electrical element plugged into a socket in your nursery is not a great idea in the first place…

  57. Although, I think the description for this product is silly, I think everyone is overreacting. The only way that the snowball would be softer, really depends on the type of snow used in it. If the snow is soft and fluffy, it won’t even form a snowball or hold together. I bought this for my kids along with the snow block maker. Not because I thought the snowballs were too hard but because I thought it would make many snowballs quickly for a snowball fight. It wasn’t a good product. Our problem was that it usually only made two halves or the snowball would get stuck inside the maker and you would ruin it trying to get it out. The kids liked using it to scoop snow and they would fight over it. They still made many more snowballs on their own and still got messy wet mittens.

  58. Isn’t that just a melon baller? If I was really worried (pfft!), couldn’t I buy basically the same thing at Bed Bath and Beyond or something?

  59. […] Readers! As I read through the comments about the $9 snowball maker invented by a dad to make sure his sons’ snowballs weren’t […]

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