Two years ago, Della J. Morgan was a first-grader sitting in her room, drawing and writing about a goal she had to sell shaved ice to friends and family. Earlier this month, she served up the frozen treat to an international clientele at the World Games in Birmingham.

“It was fun,” she said of her experience. “I got to see new people all over the world … They appreciate the shaved ice so much because it was so good. They said it’s the best thing they ever tasted.”

As the young CEO of Deljen’s, 8-year-old Della J. is bringing her dreams and ideas to life with her food trailer in Opelika and beyond. This summer, she has been busy with Food Truck Fridays in downtown Opelika, but she has also served hungry customers in Auburn, Columbus and Lake Guntersville.

Her parents help with the business as well, whether it be making ice, prepping the flavors, helping with production, updating social media or seeking new opportunities to serve.

In fact, it was Della J.’s mother, Jennifer Morgan, who was alerted to the opportunity to serve at the World Games.

“My sister, who’s in the heart of Birmingham, she came to me and mentioned to me that, ‘Hey, I think you guys should do the World Games,’” Jennifer recalled.

It took about a year of paperwork, meetings, background checks and obtaining the proper permits, but Deljen’s was able to join only a handful of food trucks and trailers as the “official shaved ice of the World Games.”

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Jennifer said. “For us, we were the only shaved ice food truck that was there.”

Deljen’s typically offers 30 shaved ice flavors, but the Morgans decided to condense the list to 14 for the World Games. According to Jennifer, many of the flavors reflected different countries and cultures — from li hing mui, a dried Chinese plum flavor, to piña colada and mango with Tajín.

“The World Games was people from all over the world, so I had flavors that represented Hawaii, China, United States, Mexico … just a different variety of flavors that would represent everybody coming into Birmingham for the World Games,” she said.

While Della J. and her team focus on shaved ice, they also offer other “tidbits” such as hotdogs, nachos, cotton candy, bottled water and canned drinks. They also serve the shaved ice in large cups with a decorative drink umbrella for tropical flair, with a variety of toppings available such as whipped cream, candy and boba.


Deljen’s prepared 14 bottles of each of the 14 flavors for a total of nearly 200 bottles, and they ended up using most of their supply, according to Jennifer. Both she and Della J. said it was a challenge to deal with the long lines, but their shaved ice was a welcomed treat in the hot weather.

“Even though we condensed our flavors doing the World Games, the most challenging was making sure that we served every person that came to our window, even if we had a cutoff time,” Jennifer said. “…We wanted to make sure that we serve everyone that came through the line.”

Jennifer said the prospect of serving at a major event like the World Games was “so cool,” but she also saw it as a valuable experience for her daughter. Not only was Della J. able to meet and interact with new people, but she also gained experience managing her business at a large event. That included everything from counting change to keeping the trailer and equipment clean.

 “It was a great experience for her, and as a young CEO, she’s learned a lot about entrepreneurship and customer service and how to speak to people, how to take orders,” Jennifer said.

Della J. said she enjoyed taking a break to watch gymnastics, but she was also excited to participate in her first television news appearance with Birmingham’s WVTM-13. For Jennifer, who grew up in Birmingham, it was just as exciting to watch her daughter share her story with the city she once called home.

“Deljen’s is not a job to me,” she said. “It’s really not a job to her. We make it fun, and so by planning that (the World Games), it was a fun process … We still make sure that her business runs as long as she wants it to run, and I believe she’ll want it to run until the end of time.”

And as long as Della J. keeps her grades up, Jennifer said she’ll be able to take her business to new heights.

Della J. said she is grateful for the support she has received so far and hopes to one day “travel the whole world” to sell her shaved ice in other states and countries. Until then, she will continue serving the Opelika-Auburn community — and make it back to Birmingham soon.

“I was really happy to serve Birmingham and the rest of those people that really appreciated it,” she said.