Gourmet popsicle vendors in cities across the U.S. are creating fun flavor combinations and updating classic treats.
Remember the popsicles your mom stocked in the freezer at the first sign of summer weather? Grape. Orange. Cherry. Those were your options, and if you were lucky, they were the double-stick variety.
That was then, and the only thing that’s changed is the flavor variety. Ice pop purveyors across the country are freezing up unexpected and inventive flavors, enticing customers with treats to beat the heat.
Many popsicle mavens are spinning off the classic fruit and/or cream and/or herb formula of Latin American paletas, studded with icy chunks of fresh fruit, nuts, herbs and veggies, and blended into memorable flavor combinations. Here’s a look at 10 gourmet popsicle vendors across the U.S., and how they’ve updated a summer tradition.
AikoPops, Denver, Colo.
Flavor: Raspberry Sweet Corn
Billed as a “modern day pop shop,” this Denver favorite keeps customers coming back again and again for flavors such as Pineapple Cilantro, Tomato Basil and Apple Wasabi. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more creative array of ice pops – especially when it comes to the Raspberry Sweet Corn flavor. Juicy berries, buttery sweet corn, the perfect hot-day cool-down.
Sol Pops, Portland, Ore.
Flavor: Blueberry Hopsicle
Summer in the Pacific Northwest is magical – long days, no rain, sunshine a-plenty, lots of locally grown produce. Sol Pops excels in Portland for all of these reasons. After all, what better way to celebrate a magical summer than with a fruity paleta? That’s the thinking that inspired the start of Sol Pops, where the pops are under-sweetened, relying on the natural flavors of Pacific Northwest bounty. Varieties include Sweet Sugar Snap Pea with Orange and Marionberry Coconut, among others.
Lil’ Pop Shop, Philadelphia, Pa.
Flavor: Lemon Curd Shortbread
The name of the game at many pop shops is to dream up a menu full of the most enchanting flavors possible. There’s no sense in picking a winner, but if there were going to be one, Lil’ Pop Shop might be a top contender with flavors like Sweet Pea, Beets with Crème Fraiche and Black Sesame Seeds, and Chocolate with Salted Caramel Brownie. But keep in mind that the Lemon Curd Shortbread is an elegant option for a hot day in Philly.
Meltdown, New Orleans, La.
Flavor: Vietnamese Coffee
New Orleans is one place where you might be able to successfully defend popsicles as a summertime necessity – not an indulgence. The air hangs heavy for months on end with little relief. That’s why New Orleanians and travelers alike flock to Meltdown, where flavors such as Saffron Rosewater, Chocolate Coconut Curry, and Cantaloupe and Mint are often used as a sort of culinary air conditioning. Don’t miss the Vietnamese Coffee variety with its velvety sweetened condensed milk base.
Las Paletas, Nashville, Tenn.
Flavor: Hot Chocolate with Chili
Las Paletas, like most gourmet pop shops, has full-sized paletas, but consider the chiquitas. These mini pops afford the opportunity to try all the flavors your heart desires. Las Paletas’ menu is teeming with options – all of them equally tempting and authentic Latin American treats. A few good places to start at this Music City mainstay? The Avocado and Hibiscus varieties are universally loved, and the Hot Chocolate with Chili pop is the perfect fusion of sweet and heat.
King of Pops, Atlanta, Ga.; Athens, Ga.; Savannah, Ga.; and other cities
Flavor: Banana Puddin’
These ice pops are so popular, they’ve become something of a regional chain brand in the Southeast. As the brainchild of two brothers, King of Pops does a delicious job of regularly refreshing its flavor lineup, while remaining true to the flavors that keep customers craving more – Southern-flaired options such as Key Lime Pie and Arnold Palmer abound, alongside Blackberry Ginger Lemonade and Banana Puddin’ – the ultimate puddin’ pop.
Feverish Pops, Miami, Fla.
Flavor: Strawberry Balsamic
This South Florida pop shop is home to a menu full of tropical flavors and even a few adults-only booze-infused choices. Not only does Feverish offer 15 to 20 flavors daily – think Kiwi Lemonade, Chocolate Salted Coconut and Mango Bourbon – customers can also have their pop rolled in a choice of toppings, ranging from crushed graham crackers, to granola or potato chips. The Strawberry Balsamic flavor is a sophisticated upgrade to a classic favorite.
Ocean Ave Pops, Boston-area
Flavor: Peppermint Patty with Chocolate Shell
For a city that really knows the bite of a cold winter, ice pops may not seem like a year-round hit. That’s not a problem for Ocean Ave Pops, where the menu evolves with weather systems. Cold is cold, but who doesn’t get excited about flavors like Spiced Eggnog and Pumpkin Pie? And the frosty, cream-based, chocolate-dipped Peppermint Patty pop is reason enough to wish for sweater weather. Once the ground thaws, don’t miss the Grilled Pineapple with Burnt Sugar flavor.
The Detroit Pop Shop, Detroit, Mich.
Flavor: Grapefruit Habanero
Most every pop shop has a nicely balanced array of cream-based pops and fruit-based options. Few of them have achieved a balance quite as nice as The Detroit Pop Shop, which has an always-changing menu of imaginative flavor combos. Want to play it safe and sweet? Try the Strawberry Lemonade pop. Feeling playful? Order up the Peanut Butter and Jelly pop. If you can handle the heat, the refreshingly spicy Grapefruit Habanero pop is for you.
Flavor: Platano (bananas foster with homemade caramel and anejo rum)
Reading the menu at Paletas Betty is almost as enjoyable as tasting the items on it. See why: Limón Amarillo (tart lemon with a lemon zest sugar rub), Zarzamora (blackberry and lavender), and of course the Platano (rum and homemade caramel).