This hot-weather snack has a long history: Alexander the Great, during his expeditions in India at the foot of the Himalayas, would require a continual supply of fresh snow and enjoy it mixed with honey and fruit juice. And since the 13th Century, the Chinese have been exporting artificial freezing methods to the Old Continent. But how long did it take for someone to think of inserting a little wooden stick into the icy mixture, giving rise to the now-ubiquitous Popsicle?
In the winter of 1905, an 11 year-old child named Frank Epperson left a stick in his drink and left it outside his house all night. The following morning, Frank enjoyed the very fist “Epsicle”. He waited until 1923 to register the trademark under the name Popsicle and then sold it to the Joe Lowe Company of New York. From sweet flavors like fruit to decisive ones like mint or licorice, since the 1930s, Popsicles have taken a place in the collective imagination alongside lollipops and milkshakes. The classic shape eventually transformed those resembling missiles, sharks, lightsabers – may the force of your freezer be with you! – or even cartoon characters from popular video games.
In Russia, near Moscow (where the climate is very ice-pop friendly), the designing duo Stoyn have created ice-pop sculptures in the likeness of famous people from the 20th Century, each one with a special flavor that reflects his or her personality: Cranberry & Vodka for Mayakovsky, Blueberry & Licorice for Darth Vader, Mate & Rum for Che Guevara and Strawberry & Cream for Marilyn Monroe. Even the world’s most famous chefs have enjoyed creating gourmet-worthy Popsicles as a part of their menus. In his Michelin-starred restaurant Guido in the coastal town of Rimini, Italian chef Gian Paolo Raschi features a Lemon & Basil version, and Giuliano Baldessari astounds his diners with Popsicles in flavors like beer, white chocolate, chestnut and coffee. At the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas the Watermelon Patch is served poolside: the ingredients are tequila, cucumber, coconut and chili salt. In their gourmet Popsicle store Las Paletas, sisters Irma and Norma Patz offer customers versions created with tamarind juice and Mexican chili pepper. At the rooftop restaurant Metropole of Cincinnati’s Century Museum Hotel, you can enjoy flavored ice to melt into your glass of bourbon.
Try the mint and strawberry version served in a tumbler of Old Forester Bourbon. If you like the simpler tastes of organic fruit and vegetables, you could get lost among all the handmade, refreshing options available at New York’s People’s Pop. In New Orlean’s Meltdown, the emphasis is on seasonal fruit as well as sophisticated combinations like salted caramel and Vietnamese coffee. For those who seek out the reassurance that their Popsicles are “vegan, gluten free, made with no preservatives, no additives, environmentally friendly and always delicious”, Suckit Sweets and Treats in Los Angeles is the place for you. And if you happen to have an idea for your own Popsicle recipe, take part in their Sucksicle Recipe Contest and if your version wins, you can take your friends there and enjoy your own Popsicle absolutely free!