Ashley Hansen, a native of New Orleans, was adopted into a childhood surrounded by magic, under the care of the renowned Hansen family. Grandfather Ernest, a visionary machinist, etched his name in history with the invention of the world's first electric ice-shaving machine during World War II. His distinctive blue eyes, magnified by coke bottle glasses, spoke volumes of a life spent in ship hulls and machine shops.
Nicknamed "Mange," Grandmother infused daily syrups with Italian warmth, creating an atmosphere of love for every child in her shop—a true firecracker in spirit. Together, they relished the simple joy of cooling their tummies on scorching summer days.
Educated by the Ursuline Nuns and Jesuits, Ashley Hansen developed a deep connection with the mighty Mississippi, walking the batture and absorbing the city's rich history. Professional life unfolded with culinary experiences at mom and pop establishments, exploring the bold flavors of coffee with chicory, Creole tomatoes, and midnight pralines.
In the role of caretaker, Ashley Hansen embraced the responsibility of preserving family legacy and well-being. Living in a city with many voices but one soul, she became a steadfast guardian of memory and spirit.
Accolades followed, including being named "Guardian of Tradition" by Southern Foodways in 2005, earning the James Beard Award for "American Classic" in 2014, and receiving the honor of SFA Keeper of the Flame in 2023.
Today, Ashley Hansen remains devoted to the corner sweetshop, a cherished symbol of eighty-five years of happiness and love. Breathing in the humid air, amid the distant streetcar bells, she remains a hopeful custodian, trusting that future generations will embrace and love New Orleans as deeply as she does.