Ice pops* should come with some sort of mini umbrella or special drip cup for managing all the melting. Ice-cream cones at least slow down the drippiness via the cone's rugged terrain, allowing for quick, last-minute cleanup licks. But ice pops are a war of attrition.
This is one of the inane topics I brought up while chatting with Megan Janes of Seattle Pops, the one-stop ice-pop shop currently found at farmers markets, grocery stores, and various other locations throughout the city that will soon get its own brick-and-mortar shop (1401 N 45th St) in Wallingford.
"We do have some ideas on how to help that, some drip-guard-type things," Janes offered. "Some moms at the farmers markets have been creating their own little drip trays."
While it's fun to imagine that the idea for Seattle Pops came to Janes when she was eating an ice pop and the stick underneath read, "You will start an ice-pop company," its genesis happened on a hot day in Birmingham, Alabama.
"One of my friends down there said, 'Let's go to the popsicle shop,' and I was like, 'What? There's a popsicle shop?' And then later she told me, 'You should do this in Seattle,' and I said, 'Yeah, maybe.'"
That "maybe" is the reason Janes's business—which she co-runs with her dad, Dave, and her sister, Lindsey—sells thousands of ice pops every week at numerous spots around Seattle, proving the Janeses are far more than just a family with a cool last name.
Seattle Pops may be offering some sort of drip protector in the future, but their ice pops barely require one. This new breed of all-natural frozen treat—inspired by the Mexican paleta—is a far cry from the generic grocery-store ice pops of my youth. Densely made and frozen at very low temperatures, many ice-pop issues—including top breakage, drips, and early stick separation—are a thing of the past (not to sound like an infomercial).
This is why a single Seattle Pops treat costs almost as much as a pack of Bomb Pops, and why you may find yourself echoing John Travolta in Pulp Fiction when seeing the $4 price point: "Did you just order a $4 ice pop? That's frozen fruit, water, stick, and sugar—for $4?" After trying it, you'll likely relent a bit, however. "God damn that's a pretty good fucking ice pop. I don't know if it's worth $4, but it's pretty fucking good."
What's admirable about the Seattle Pops flavor selection is the lack of pretense and over-experimentation found at too many new ice-cream shops. There's nothing with beets or dates or kale. There's no pops flavored with bone broth or sriracha or bacon.
Rather, you'll find simple, tasty offerings like watermelon, orange, chocolate banana (yes, there are actual pieces of banana), cinnamon horchata, and peaches 'n' cream. There are five types of strawberry, including strawberry lemonade, strawberry basil, strawberry banana, strawberries 'n' cream, and very strawberry (so strawberry that the regular old strawberry label is apparently not good enough). Sometimes you need a "very" in there, as in: This article is very annoying.
Each ice pop is a respectable tribute to its namesake fruit. The strawberries taste like strawberries, and the snozzberries taste like snozzberries. If you look at the ice pops as a biographical movie about each fruit's life, the fruit would probably be welcomed on set and give their blessing in the press. What I'm trying to say is this: They're delicious.
At the new store in Wallingford, you'll be able to have your pop dipped in vats of milk chocolate or dark chocolate. The Seattle Pops team will actually be doing the dipping, which is a good thing, as it avoids double-dipping troublemakers. The house that pops built will also feature window seating, a giant patio, and a viewing window where people can watch the pop-making process. I assumed this merely involved staring at a closed freezer, but there's actually an elaborate tank-like machine where the molds are poured and frozen.
Seattle Pops joins the ranks of the city's most impressive niche stores, including the Sock Monster, KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn, and the Purple Store, where I get all my grape-colored accessories. An all-lollipop shop is surely around the corner.
I asked Janes if she was ever worried about limiting her focus. "I don't think I was worried," she said, "because I saw in other parts of the country the reaction to the product was so positive. It reminds people of their childhood, and this is a fresh take on it."
This fresh take on childhood foods has a way of being both nostalgic and nullifying at the same time, because we often yearn for the simple treats of our youth, but later realize that the adult versions of them—macaroni and cheese, cupcakes, and ice cream—are depressingly better. I thought my parents made good pizza until I actually had good pizza, and now their divorce is the second-worst thing from my childhood.
Still, an actual drip receptacle for frozen stick treats is nothing less than progress, whether it's catching ice-pop drips or tears. Janes is working on a small paper-plate apparatus that the wooden stick can go through.
"It's not our top priority right now," she said, laughing. "But it's definitely something that we've been talking about."
* Yes, we'd prefer to use the more ubiquitous term for the beloved frozen treat on a stick, but Popsicle®—along with Creamsicle®, Fudgsicle®, and Yosicle®—are registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies, which means we aren't allowed to call it that unless we're talking about those specific frozen treats on a stick, even though both you and I know that we will continue to refer to it thusly in our daily ice-pop-slurping lives..