Four Years of Snow Cones: The Chilly Hillbilly Origin Story 

By: Caylyn Pfizenmaier

Photo courtesy of Chilly Hillbilly FB Page

Throughout the summer The Chilly Hillbilly can be seen in the area serving the summer treat known as snow cones. Founded by the Varners of Clay Center in 2020, the family delivers the treat from location to location via food truck. 

Esther Varner, who along with her husband, Kendall and two sons, Kolton and Wyatt, operate the business. She said the idea for the snow cone truck came as a way to give their kids independence and responsibility. 

“I’ve got to give all the credit to my husband. He wanted the kids to have the opportunity to learn how to run a business and be able to make money for themselves,” she said. “In our small community it’s kind of hard for young kids to have a job.  It’s one of those things where you have to have experience to get a job but if it’s your first job you don’t have any experience.” 

Varner also said the reason behind the business was to bring something new and exciting to the community. 

“My husband really wanted to bring something that the area didn’t already have and, by doing that, hopefully it would be successful and something that we continue.” 

The success has followed the family for many years, especially during the summer. When asked about what a typical day looks like while operating a business that is mobile Varner said that every day brings something new to the forefront of the operation. 

Varner said because they are a mobile business, no two days look the same. 

“Our trailer is geared more toward, you know, a refreshing summer treat after the pool or after baseball or after work kind of a dessert thing.”

The trailer is often set up at events, or can be booked through a business or personal event. This summer, Varner said they will attend a wedding to provide snow cones as an after-ceremony dessert for guests. 

When starting the business in 2020, Varner said there were many decisions to be made, including what flavors to offer. 

“We currently have 25 flavors and we don’t want to go any bigger than that. With all the combinations and the shorthand to take all of those orders while locating all those flavors when you are trying to get a snow cone out the window as soon as possible, so we try to stick with the most popular flavors.”

Varner says that for her the most important thing is, the aspect of real life skills, and having her sons continue to run the snow cone business while in school and having other responsibilities. 

“The biggest thing is, it was really for the kids and now that our boys are in college they are continuing it to the best of their abilities from their location. We want the middle schoolers and the high schoolers to have this education. Real life application is an entirely different thing, being booked smart versus real world.”

Sign up for the KCLY Digital Newspaper, The Regional