WORTHINGTON — A variety of sweet icy treats, healthy fresh fruit and savory street corn options are tantalizing customers at a new snack shop just south of Worthington’s downtown area.
Raspados Hernández opened in late July at 100 12th St. E., and owner Socorro Hernández is proud to offer snacks that appeal to a broad range of palates.
“I’ve been selling frozen treats in Worthington for 19 years,” said Hernández, a familiar face due to having formerly peddled her wares around the community on a bicycle cart, “and now I finally can sell everything I want to at the same time.”
Widely known for her ready supply of chicharrones (Mexican chips/wagon wheels) and paletas (frozen treats), Hernández now has 13 flavors of paletas on hand at her shop, plus eight variations of shaved ices with optional toppings — think chamoy sauce, tamarind, chopped fresh fruit and a sprinkling of finely ground salt or chili powder.
But that’s not all; customers are making a beeline to Hernández’s door to purchase street corn (either esquites — in a cup — or elotes — on the cob) and mixed fruit cups, featuring spears of fresh mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya and more.
“This is really popular with the teenagers,” said Hernández, gesturing across the counter to a rainbow-colored shaved ice cup brimming with flavors.
“It’s a favorite.”
A single mother of four grown children and eight grandchildren, Hernández is believable when she says she knows what kids like to eat.
Also, 19 years of selling tasty treats on Worthington’s streets have conditioned her to love the way kids flock to her products; seeing kids run to her cart is something she misses about being in a set location.
But Hernández isn’t missing the fatigue that inevitably developed from hours of pedaling her cart around town as she endured the sun, wind and whatever other elements a work shift dealt her.
“There were a lot of hot days, and it was very tiring,” she admitted.
Other local business owners — plus soccer players and fans she frequently sold to at Buss Field — encouraged her to consider opening a storefront shop, and with support from family and friends, she was finally able to do so.
“I had support from many people,” said Hernández.
“They told me, ‘Go for it,’ and ‘You can do it,’ and they encouraged me to move forward.”
Hernández is proud that Raspados Hernández is fully licensed and has met the state health inspector’s stamp of approval, and she serves her products confidently.
Although she has resided in Worthington for nearly two decades, Hernández grew up the sixth of 11 children in the similarly sized south-central Mexico town of Almoloya de Alquisiras.
“My family was very poor,” recalled Hernández. “We had a small garden and my dad sold corn, cherries, whatever he could, to support us.”
Still, Hernández cherishes her memories of a loving family and the work ethic her father instilled in her; she has dedicated her shop to him.
On a recent afternoon, a steady stream of customers dropped in, keeping Hernández scurrying as she filled their orders for the whole range of products she offers.
Among them was Tara Kraft, owner of Tara’s Bridal and Colonial Laundromat, and Kraft’s daughter Kimberly.
“I had the elotes from her cart,” attested Kimberly Kraft, “and I’m addicted to her corn.
“We saw on Facebook that she opened here, so I had to stop.”
Added Tara Kraft, “I work with all members of this community in my businesses, and I like to support other small business owners.”
Hernández welcomed their endorsement and mentioned she is seeking input from existing and would-be customers as to other products they might like to see her stock as the seasons change.
Atole (a cornmeal-based Mexican hot chocolate) and tamales are a couple of ideas she is considering.
“I’ve had a hard journey, but I’m doing my very best to keep moving forward,” said Hernández, who appreciates the assistance she receives from Worthington-based family members including two nephews, one son and three of her eight grandchildren.
“With God’s help, I’ll keep working and trying to find my niche here.”
Raspados Hernández is located at 100 12th St. E. and is open from 3:30 to 9 p.m. daily (except Tuesdays). Phone (507) 329-6374 for orders or curbside pickup.