By Jared Ranahan

USA tODAY 10Best

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Shave ice has ancient origins in Japan

You may know shave ice as Hawaii's favorite frozen treat, but it's important to note the distinction between Hawaiian shave ice and the common snow cone.

"Shave ice typically consists of ice shaved very thin, creating a soft flake of ice, instead of a crunchy piece of ice."

Veronica Lovesy of The Shops at Kukui'ula on Kaua'i

The final product has the consistency of freshly-fallen snow, and the flavoring is absorbed into the mix rather than pooling at the bottom.

While the ice is the main component of the dish, there are a number of other elements that can be added for a well-rounded shave ice experience, such as ice cream, fresh fruit and Asian plum powder.

The origin of shave ice can be traced back to Japan’s Heian period, around one millennium ago. Known as kakigori, it consisted of shavings from a block of ice mixed with a sweet syrup.

Access to the treat was confined to the highest fringes of society, as ice could only be sourced in the dead of winter, and needed to be stored in large ice houses or caves to prevent melting.

The treat remained cordoned off from the lower classes until the early 1900s, as numerous advances in technology ushered in an era of cheap, plentiful ice.

When sugar plantations began to fill the Hawaiian Islands during the 1800s, Japanese immigrants arrived in the tens of thousands.

A permanent and sizable Japanese population stayed within the Hawaiian islands. Nostalgic for the kakigori of their homeland, they were able to recreate the treat on their own and begin selling it.

It was sold in convenience and grocery stores, where it became known to the locals as "shave ice." Today, it's a beloved treat found throughout Hawaii, with countless shops set up across the state.

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