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Gut Check: Will the Snoopy Snow-Cone Machine turn Ian's crank? 

In my review two weeks ago of local snow-cone and snowball stands, I mentioned my childhood obsession with the Snoopy Snow-Cone Machine. I wanted it, but my parents said no.

(After reading the review, my mother quipped, "When you push me down the stairs, I'll know why.")

Imagine my surprise to learn that the toy is still being manufactured. Supposedly, it is available at Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us. I found one at, of all places, Urban Outfitters. The price was twice as high as it should have been — the kitsch markup, I guess. Still, can you put a price on a childhood dream?

Actually, you can. In hindsight I'd pay no more than $5 for the thing.

The Snoopy Snow-Cone Machine is basically a glorified cheese grater: a cylindrical piece of metal you insert into Snoopy's cheap plastic doghouse. Attach a crank to the metal grater, and you're good to go. The toy can shave one ice cube at a time. Slowly.

Very. Slowly.

Seriously, it took a few minutes to shave enough ice to fill only one of the Dixie-size cups provided with the toy. This is maybe two bites' worth — if you can eat it before it melts.

The toy comes with a packet of grape Flavor Aid-brand drink mix and instructions for making your own syrup: Mix the Flavor Aid with a cup of sugar and a half-cup of water. This produces enough syrup for at least a dozen of the Dixie-cup snow cones. Which would take you about an hour to shave enough ice.

Thanks, Mom and Dad. I should have understood your reasons for saying no.

Openings: In the past month, St. Louis has welcomed two new Italian restaurants. Mazara is located at 7923 Forsyth Boulevard in Clayton. Call 314-725-3434 for more info. Last week, Mia Rosa opened at 4501 Manchester Road in Forest Park Southeast's Grove neighborhood. The restaurant features Italian cuisine from chef Philip Noe. For details call 314-652-7672.

Are you opening a new restaurant? Know of a place that has closed? Something else for Ian to chew on? E-mail

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