Apr 11, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
There are few things in life that are certain, but for Sno Top, the ice cream stand with a rich history in Manlius, one thing has been the same for 12 years now: Erin Griffin, a Fayetteville-Manlius sophomore, is always the first customer of the season.
Sno Top, owned and operated by Kathy and Vince Giordano, has been a Manlius landmark for 55 years, serving sugar-craving men, women and children from St. Patrick’s Day and on through the summer. As Kathy Giordano said, Sno Top, a multiple award-winning creamery, is one of the places teenagers can get seasonal work, which helps contribute to the local economy.
“We provide kids with jobs,” she said, adding that Sno Top employs, at peak season, 19 youngsters.
While locals know Sno Top, many do not know that Griffin prides herself on being the first customer each year. In fact, for the last four years, she’s also been the last customer before the stand closes for the season.
Griffin said the details of how it all started are a bit hazy because she was only 3 when it happened by accident.
“It’s hard to remember all the details,” says the well-spoken girl, who is a writer on the student-run F-M newspaper The Buzz. “We were driving back from a training on a Saturday morning when we passed by Sno Top and decided to stop.”
The rest is history, as it has become a tradition for Griffin and Giordano to see each other on Opening Day. In fact, as Giordano recalls, there have been times when she has had to tell others waiting in line that Griffin has to be the first customer.
While she admits she’s not a die-hard ice cream lover, Griffin said she gets a chocolate-vanilla twist cone, usually with green sprinkles in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Because of the mini heat wave a few weeks ago, Griffin said she was able to enjoy her cone in ideal conditions.
Griffin is an interesting person. She enjoys creative writing, history and theater. One of her biggest accomplishments, she claims, was participating in National Novel Writing Month, when she had to write a 50,000-word story that dealt with real-world, teenage issues.
But she still, in teenage speak, keeps it real.
“It’s your typical story about a teen girl who gets pregnant,” she said. “That’s it.”
She calls herself an introvert, and she enjoys keeping to herself. While Giordano admits she doesn’t know Griffin on an ultra-personal level, she did comment on the future novelist.
“She’s a real sweety,” Giordano said while showing how to prepare Sno Top’s signature Trash Can, a plastic cup shaped like a receptacle, stuffed with ice cream, topped with peanut butter and chocolate syrup, then garnished with two eyes and a gummy worm to bring the creation to life. “She really enjoys being the first person here every year. It’s become a family tradition for her and her family.”
Griffin is heading out for an excursion in Ireland. She really enjoys showtunes and Celtic music, and cites Enter the Haggis as one of her favorite bands. She’s a go-getter by nature, and will tell you that herself if you ask. In addition to everything she does, Griffin also nonchalantly mentioned she obtained a black belt in karate a few years back.
“It’s a determination thing,” she said. “I’d like to continue being the first every year.”
When she heads off to college, she may be able to continue to be first every year since many spring breaks fall around St. Patrick’s Day.
“If I can’t get to be first every year, maybe I’ll pass the crown on to someone else who can keep the tradition alive,” Griffin said.
Sno Top is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the spring, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the summer.
Neil Benjamin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.