Strawberry basil popsicle

Strawberry basil popsicle

Regular daytime high temperatures near 100 degrees may be an unwelcome trend throughout America this summer, but the surging popularity of artisan popsicles is hitting the United States at just the right time. Kojo explores how creative approaches to fresh ingredients can produce delicious treats to keep you cool this summer.


  • Brian Sykora Co-Founder, Pleasant Pops
  • Krystina Castella Author, "Pops! And Other Icy Treats for Everyone" (Quirk Books, 2008)

Creative Popsicles For Kids And Adults

All images courtesy Krystina Castella.

Popsicle Recipes

Recipes courtesy “Pops! Icy Treats For Everyone” by Krystina Castella. Reprinted by permission of Quirk Books. All rights reserved.

Honeydew Melon Pops

Perfectly ripe honeydew melons are extraordinarily juicy and sweet. For these pops choose melons that have a high water content that are a little overripe. Honeydew is rich in vitamin C and potassium. Try layering the honeydew mixture with the watermelon and cantaloupe variations for beautiful pastel pops.

4 cups diced (1/2-inch cubes) ripe honeydew melon
1/3 cup plain yogurt
Juice of 3 limes
Grated zest of 1 lime
3 teaspoons honey

  1. Put 2 cups of the melon, the yogurt, and lime juice and zest in a food processor or blender; process until smooth.
  2. Add the honey; process again to combine.
  3. Stir in the remaining 2 cups melon.
  4. Fill the pop molds with the mixture. Freeze for at least 6 hours.
  5. Remove from the freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing the pops from the molds. Serve.
  6. Substitutions: Replace the honeydew melon with 5 cups diced watermelon, and replace the lime juice with 2 teaspoons almond extract. Add 1/3 cup almonds. Replace the honeydew melon with 4 cups diced cantaloupe, and replace the yogurt with 1/3 cup soy milk. Add 3 chopped fresh mint leaves.

Mai Tai Pops

East meets west in these Polynesian Mai Tai Pops. Think hula dancers, orchard leis, flaming torches, and some campy tiki fun. If you are really ambitious and want to create pops you won’t find anywhere else, make your own tiki head silicone molds to shape these pops. I like to present these pops on a bed of flowers or individually on a small plate next to a single orchid.

2 tablespoons light rum
2 tablespoons dark rum
3 tablespoons orange curaçao
2 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1 1/4 cups sour mix (lemon & lime juices with simple syrup)
1/4 cup orgeat syrup or almond syrup
2 limes, unpeeled, cut into thin rounds
1/4 cup sliced almonds
12 fresh mint leaves

  1. In a pitcher, combine the rums and curaçao, orange juice, sour mix, lime juice, and orgeat syrup.
  2. Reserve 1 lime slice for each pop. Peel the remaining slices. Distribute the almonds, peeled lime slices, and mint leaves evenly among the pop molds.
  3. Pour the juice mixture into the molds. Freeze for at least 12 hours.
  4. Remove from the freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing the pops from the molds.
    Stick a reserved lime slice onto each stick for garnish. Let these pops transport you to summer in the South Seas.

Pomegranate Apple Pops

In college I had an assignment to choose a fruit and use the structure to inspire a design. I picked the familiar but somewhat boring banana. My friend chose the pomegranate. I had never seen one before and was fascinated by its color, shape, taste, and the number of seeds (I counted almost six hundred). Today, with evidence of the fruit’s health benefits piling up, pomegranates are everywhere, especially in juice form.

2 3/4 cups pomegranate juice, or 8 whole pomegranates
1 3/4 cups apple juice
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (from about 1/2 pomegranate)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Rome apples, cored and sliced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

  1. If using whole pomegranates instead of juice, make several cuts in the pomegranate skin from top to bottom. Immerse the pomegranate in a bowl of water and gently break it apart. Pull the seeds away from the pith and they will sink. Pour off everything but the seeds. Drain the seeds in a colander. Place the seeds in a blender and blend until finely chopped. Strain the liquid though a fine-mesh sieve or a colander lined with several layers of rinsed cheesecloth set over a large bowl.
  2. In a saucepan over low heat, simmer the sugar and apple juice until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
  3. For a blend of flavors: Combine all the juices together, add the seeds and apples, and pour into the pop molds. Freeze for 8 hours. For multilayer pops: Add half of the apple juice mixture to the pomegranate juice, along with the 3/4 cup seeds. Add the apples to the remaining apple juice. Partially fill the molds with the pomegranate juice mixture. Insert the sticks. Freeze for at least 2 hours. Add a layer of apple juice mixture, freeze for 2 hours, then add another layer of pomegranate; repeat, freezing for at least 2 hours between layers, until the pop molds are full.
  4. Remove from the freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing the pops from the molds. Serve to health-trend-conscious friends.

Thai Iced Coffee Pops

Thai iced coffee is a very sweet, creamy refreshment brewed by street vendors in a cloth bag and served in a plastic bag with plenty of crushed ice and a straw. These Thai Iced Coffee Pops are based on traditional recipes and serving methods. The Thai coffee powder (oliang) and the milk are poured over crushed ice and not mixed, creating one tasty layer on top of another.

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, or to taste
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup milk
2 cups Thai coffee powder (see Note)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 cups crushed ice

  1. In a small bowl, combine 6 tablespoons of the sweetened condensed milk, the evaporated milk, and milk. Stir and well and set aside.
  2. Bring 4 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Spoon the coffee powder and cardamom into a cheesecloth bag or coffee filter. Close securely with kitchen string and place the bag in a heatproof pitcher. Pour the boiling water over the bag and add sweeten with the remaining sweetened condensed milk. Stir well. Let sit for 10 minutes, until dark brown, then remove and discard the bag.
  3. Fill each mold halfway with crushed ice. Pour in the milk mixture until one third full. Freeze for at least 20 minutes, until firm.
  4. Remove from the freezer. Fill the molds with the Thai coffee mixture. Freeze for at least 6 hours, until firm.
  5. Remove from the freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing the pops from the molds. Enjoy as an afternoon pick-me-up.
  6. Substitutions: Replace the coffee powder with 3/4 cup Thai iced tea powder. Stir until the mixture is orangish brown. Proceed with the Thai iced coffee method. Replace the evaporated milk with unsweetened coconut milk. Add the juice of 2 limes and some fresh mint leaves in step 3.

Note: Each brand of Thai coffee or iced tea powder calls for a different powder-to-water ratio. Read the directions on the package to adjust this recipe as needed.


  • 13:29:12

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIAs the temperatures continue to creep close to 100 degrees this summer, the icy cool treats from your childhood have probably never sounded so good, and few frozen delights are as timeless as the Popsicle. The unlikely discovery of an 11-year-old boy more than a century ago, the classic red, white and blue firecracker pops continue to drip patriotically down children's faces. And the appropriate time to pull apart a double stick twin pop still perplexes the best of us.

  • 13:29:41

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIBut some of the favorite pops of today have little more edge, like the paletas made with fresh fruit sold around town or a pop made at home from tea. Joining us to explore how with a little creativity your pops can provide more summer satisfaction than the generic fruit juice options in the frozen food section is Brian Sykora. He is the cofounder of Pleasant Pops, a business that sells pops and paletas in the D.C. area. Brian and his cofounder Roger Horowitz sell their pops out of a food truck and plan to open a store, The Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market and Café later this summer. Brian Sykora, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:30:22

    MR. BRIAN SYKORAThank you for having us.

  • 13:30:23

    NNAMDIAnd joining us from studios in Pasadena, Calif. is Krystina Castella, author of seven cookbooks, including "Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone." She has practiced as an industrial designer for nearly 20 years and is a professor of graduate studies in industrial design at Art Center College of Design. Krystina Castella, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:30:44

    MS. KRYSTINA CASTELLAThank you for having me.

  • 13:30:45

    NNAMDIYou, too, can join the conversation. Just call us, 800-433-8850. Send us a Tweet at kojoshow or email us at Do popsicles bring back fond memories from your childhood? What do you find to be so enjoyable about pops? 800-433-8850. Brian, it's my understanding that you and your business partner moved to Washington a few years after graduating from the University of North Carolina and that you were distressed because you couldn't find the kind of pops you really liked, pops with Mexican roots that are made with everything from sweet cream and cinnamon to cucumber and chili. At what point did you decide to start making your own and what kinds of pops were you trying to make?

  • 13:31:27

    SYKORAIt was about 2009, Kojo, when we moved to D.C. And we were looking for a way to combine local market fruit that we buy at farmer's markets with, you know, something we were both familiar with from our respective hometowns, which were pops or paletas. So we saw a good opportunity to do that. We would buy, you know, peaches or strawberries as they were in season and started selling -- after trying them out on our friends for a few months -- the following summer in July, 2010 we launched our cart at the Mount Pleasant farmer's market here in D.C.

  • 13:32:05

    NNAMDIThe pushcart at Mount Pleasant farmer's market. How do the products sold by Pleasant Pops differ from the traditional popsicles found in the grocery store or from an ice cream truck?

  • 13:32:17

    SYKORAWell, a lot of times what you'll find in the grocery store is something made with high fructose corn syrup or some type of artificial flavoring. We try to use local fruit when we can. Our pops always have fresh ingredients, organic cane sugar, and we try to be creative. So what you find in the grocery store might be, you know, your standard strawberry or your firecracker pop. We like to mix things like cucumbers and jalapenos to...

  • 13:32:48


  • 13:32:48

    SYKORA...chongos, yeah.

  • 13:32:49

    NNAMDIWhat's a chongos?

  • 13:32:51

    SYKORAChongos is a Mexican drink that we've created a pop out of. It combines cream, sugar, cinnamon and -- yeah, that's pretty much it.

  • 13:33:04

    NNAMDIWhat's a guac pop?

  • 13:33:05

    SYKORAA guac pop is avocado and lime. No jalapenos in that one. It's very sweet.

  • 13:33:13

    NNAMDII see a canister here. Are there any guac pops in there?

  • 13:33:15

    SYKORANo guac pops.

  • 13:33:17

    NNAMDIWhat do you got there?

  • 13:33:18

    SYKORAToday we brought watermelon mint, sweet cream and corn, pineapple basil.

  • 13:33:24

    NNAMDISweet cream and corn. I think that's the one I'd like to try but I digress. Krystina, it seems that icy pops are something that take us back to our childhoods. It's my understanding that the father of the Popsicle actually kind of invented them when he was only 11 years old. What's the story behind Frank Epperson and the original frozen pop?

  • 13:33:48

    CASTELLAWell, he'd started making them and selling them. And a couple years later was able to start a company when he got a little older. And he started a company selling them on boardwalks. And then wound up starting a big business called Popsicle. He's the one that actually named Popsicle because his kids called him pop.

  • 13:34:10

    NNAMDIBut how did he figure it out at 11 years old?

  • 13:34:13

    CASTELLAHe just started taking juice and freezing it and started, you know, like any little kid entrepreneurs started selling them on the streets.

  • 13:34:23

    NNAMDIYou consider pops to be popular among what you term kidults. How do you define kidults and why are pops a perfect food for this group?

  • 13:34:33

    CASTELLAWell, it's a sociological trend that's been happening for the past ten or fifteen years. And most people are getting married later and having kids later. So this allows them an extra ten to fifteen years of being kids, which we've never had before in our society. And that's led to the revival of a lot of food trends. My first cookbook was on cupcakes about ten years ago. So we have seen...

  • 13:35:01

    NNAMDIAre there some common characteristics of pops and cupcakes that made them so popular?

  • 13:35:04

    CASTELLAYeah, yeah. Cupcakes remind us of being kids. But if you look at the new flavors of cupcakes, they're a lot different than the standard chocolate or a golden cake. People have really taken that and reinvented it. And same thing when I came up with the project the book "Pops" I thought of it in the same way. So popsicles being reinvented for an adult audience, but also having that kid feel and flavor. And I myself have been making pops since I was about eight years old. So I have a lifetime of history with experimenting and with the freezer, which goes into the recipes that I developed .

  • 13:35:45

    NNAMDIIt's Food Wednesday. We're talking ice pops. Taking your calls at 800-433-8850. What are some of your favorite kinds of popsicles? Send us an email to or a Tweet at kojoshow. We're talking with Krystina Castella. She's the author of seven books -- seven cookbooks including "Pops: Icy Treats for Everyone," and Brian Sykora. He is the cofounder of Pleasant Pops, a business that sells pops and paletas in the D.C. area. Again, the number 800-433-8850. Do you make pops at home? Are there any specific recipes you love or methods that you use?

  • 13:36:23

    NNAMDIKrystina, your book is called "Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone" and Brian, your business is called Pleasant Pops. Why can't either of you use the most widely known name for these treats, Popsicle? First you, Krystina.

  • 13:36:36

    CASTELLAWell, actually I can use the name Popsicle. It is a trademark name and it's currently owned by the Unilever Company. And I did talk to them when I was developing the book about using the name. And then I realized that the name Popsicle has a very direct kind of association to the popsicles that that brand makes. And what I was doing was similar, but also really expanded outside of that. So I was given permission to use the name Popsicle and the word Popsicle but decided not to use it except for when it was referring to the trademark popsicle.

  • 13:37:14

    NNAMDIWhat's your reason for choosing pops, Brian?

  • 13:37:17

    SYKORAKojo, yeah, we knew it was a trademarked word, but that involved a lot of education on our part describing what a non-grocery-store-bought pop could be. In kind of educating our customers, especially early on about, you know, pops on a stick, still fresh fruit. They may not have the term Popsicle, but they're still the same.

  • 13:37:38

    NNAMDIAnd you didn't want them to confuse it with what came before. Here is Melissa in Washington, D.C. Melissa, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:37:46

    MELISSASo I'm a huge fan of Pleasant Pops. They're the absolute best. And I was wondering what flavors do you have in store for us in the works that are coming out?

  • 13:37:56

    NNAMDINew flavors. Things that Melissa can expect that she may not have had before.

  • 13:38:03

    SYKORAWell, recently this week, we brought back sweet cream and corn and watermelon mint. Lately, we've been experimenting a lot with peach so peach hibiscus is another one for this season. When late fall rolls around, we'll probably do more experimenting with apple flavors. Last year, we had a very popular apple and cinnamon flavor. So definitely look forward to fall fruits. We're not sure -- we don't have any secret ones we're ready to pounce on just yet. But...

  • 13:38:36

    NNAMDIHear anything you like there, Melissa?

  • 13:38:38

    MELISSAI think the (unintelligible) sounds great and I'm excited for the apple harvest. So I'll make sure I hit all the markets to try some.

  • 13:38:45

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Melissa. Krystina, you've written a book full of recipes for all kinds of pops. What are some commonly accepted ingredients for pops and what are some of the more unlikely components that you have incorporated into some of your recipes?

  • 13:39:01

    CASTELLAWell, the way that I divided the book up was based on the ingredients. So the juice pops are organized together and the ice cream pops are organized together, soda pops, et cetera. So those are all different ways of thinking about the pop from the ingredients that are being used. Some of my favorites are the healthy energy pops which are based on smoothie recipes. And what I do in those is try to create full protein in the way that I layer them or marbleize the ingredients together.

  • 13:39:36

    CASTELLAAnd some of the other pops, the ice cream pops, I talk a lot about the texture of the ice cream and how that sticks to the stick. But one of my favorite ice cream pops is the banana split which has a frozen banana hidden in the center of the pop and is layered with all the things that you would see in a banana split. So the different ice creams and strawberry sauce and chocolate fudge and topped with a cherry.

  • 13:39:59

    NNAMDIYeah, plus you can find recipes here for root beer float pops, mulled cider walnut pops, spice orange coffee pops, flan pops, kiwi pops and carrot and wheat grass pops, correct?

  • 13:40:11


  • 13:40:12

    NNAMDIAll of the above.

  • 13:40:14

    CASTELLAAnd with a lot of them, there's a mixture of different types of ingredients, so the way that those ingredients work together in terms of flavors and balancing them. A lot of my pops aren't blended, they're actually -- some are blended, but some of them are striped or marbleized or they're on the outside of the pop and then there's a different ingredient on the inside of the pop. So that has to do with the texture of the ingredients and the experience of how you eat the pop, so either from top to bottom, or from outside to inside, and how they stick together when they're frozen.

  • 13:40:48

    NNAMDIThank you very much for that. And now to underscore the importance of pops, if you think we're just talking treats here, here is John in Annapolis, Md. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:40:59

    JOHNHey, how's everybody doing?

  • 13:41:00

    NNAMDIWe're doing well.

  • 13:41:02

    JOHNSo I just wanted to relay the quick story that my wife and I just finished sailing our boat around the world, and we would occasionally fly home for family reasons, but bring back supplies, and of course, the critical supply was the icy pops, preferably the calorie-free icy pops that come in the little plastic sleeves that we would we drop into the freezer, and it would get us through the tropics, and it got me thinking that there's probably a market for a recyclable sleeve that you could fill with water or flavored water or what have you and market to us sailors.

  • 13:41:39

    NNAMDIYou wouldn't have made it around the world without pops, would you?

  • 13:41:43

    JOHNI can pretty well guarantee you that my wife wouldn't have made it around the world with them. It was touch and go for me as well.

  • 13:41:49

    NNAMDIYou find that inspiring Brian Sykora? Did you just get a new idea? When you mentioned that idea, I could see Brian's eyes moving.

  • 13:41:57

    SYKORAYeah. Maybe that's our next venture is take off on a boat and bring pops around the world. Yeah. I imagine freezing on a boat is quite difficult. We find it difficult to keep things frozen just for the day in our ice cream truck. But I will say that we experimented with some recyclable bags and containers and some of them would actually just melt down when they were exposed to pops, but there's definitely opportunities there.

  • 13:42:23

    NNAMDIJohn, thank you very much for your call. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. What are some of your favorite kinds of popsicles? Do popsicles bring back fond memories from your childhood? Are you a kidult? What do you find to be so enjoyable about pops? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:44:44

    NNAMDIIt's a Food Wednesday conversation on ice pops. We're talking with Krystina Castella, author of seven cookbooks including "Pops: Icy Treats for Everyone." She's practiced as an industrial designer for nearly 20 years and is a professor of graduate studies in industrial design at Art Center College of Design. She joins us from studios in Pasadena. Joining us in our Washington Studio is Brian Sykora, co-founder of Pleasant Pops, a business that sells pops and paletas here in the D.C. area.

  • 13:45:12

    NNAMDIBrian and his co-founder Roger Horowitz sell their pops out of a food truck and plan to open a store, the Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market and Café later this summer. Brian, Pleasant Pops began as a small project, just a cart at Mount Pleasant Farmers' Market. How has Pleasant Pops' presence in D.C. grown since its beginnings, and what were some of the benefits of being small and then building up your business?

  • 13:45:37

    SYKORAWell, the benefit of being small very early on allowed us to jump from neighborhood to neighborhood based on the farmers' market schedule. So on Saturdays we would visit the Mount Pleasant farmers' market, and then on Fridays we would travel to Petworth, and then Wednesdays to Foggy Bottom, Thursdays to McPherson Square. So it allowed us to really try out new areas of town, reach new people and the fact of having just one ice cream cart didn't limit us in terms we could go.

  • 13:46:11

    CASTELLAThen the following summer, launching our truck allowed us to even reach more people, you know, go to bigger festivals, events, do a lot more catering work and things like that. So I think starting small and growing allowed us to figure out where the best neighborhoods were, what types of people loved pops, and we found that it was pretty much everywhere in D.C. so we took the next step of opening the store.

  • 13:46:37

    NNAMDIAs a result of taking those steps, you've been able to see and become a part of different farmers' markets and communities in D.C. What kind of business relationships have you made with some of the vendors at farmers' markets and with other local businesses?

  • 13:46:50

    SYKORAYeah. That's a great question. So our first summer at Mount Pleasant we started developing relationships with farmers who come to the city sometimes once, twice, some even come every day of the week for a market. So we talked to them about getting fresh fruit seasonally. We've also worked with other food trucks in the D.C. area for, you know, planning big events and food truck festivals.

  • 13:47:18

    SYKORAThere's actually an impromptu Food Truck Thursday that popped up in Mount Pleasant last month. So it's allowed us to not only make better pops, but also kind of reach more people by partnering with other local businesses.

  • 13:47:34

    NNAMDIKrsytina, you have been an industrial designer for over 20 years. You teach courses in industrial design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. How do you cross the skills from your professional life into the kitchen to from ice pops?

  • 13:47:49

    CASTELLAWell, it's interesting. I had a manufacturing business making all different types of house ware products, furniture, clothing, toys, and I sold that in 2000. And after I sold that, I wanted to just play around, and I had always played around in the kitchen and decided that this was another -- food was another material for me to be to experiment with -- just like I experiment with wood and plastics and metals and all different types of manufacturing processes. So popsicles, since I had been making them for such a long time was an ideal open area to be able to play with flavor and texture and form and ingredients, especially the casting part of it where you're actually molding something.

  • 13:48:36

    CASTELLASince I was familiar with terms like undercut and draft angle and stuff like that. In order to make a product, I was able to think about in terms of designing the right pop shape for the ingredients that were being used.

  • 13:48:53

    NNAMDIWell, the design that intrigues most of -- and I'm so glad that you're a designer, because the design of the twin pop is the design that intrigues many of us because we can never figure out exactly when is the appropriate time to split the twin pop.

  • 13:49:08


  • 13:49:09

    NNAMDICan you give us some guidance here?

  • 13:49:11

    CASTELLAWell, it was actually originally intended or sharing so that was what it was developed for.

  • 13:49:16

    NNAMDIThat's what my parents seemed to think.

  • 13:49:20

    CASTELLAThat was why it was created. But I think that when the pop is melting to the point that it's going to break, that's probably the time to split it.

  • 13:49:30

    NNAMDIThat's what you...

  • 13:49:31

    SYKORAI'll tell you. At the farmers' market we have a lot of people but one for their kids, and then sure enough they'll end up eating more than half of it for themselves.

  • 13:49:40


  • 13:49:41

    SYKORASo you can even share on one stick. It's allowed.

  • 13:49:43

    NNAMDIHere's Carol in Frederick, Md. Hi, Carol. You're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:49:47

    CAROLHi, thanks. The show has triggered some childhood memories, and I'll just be real quick with one. I'm dating myself mentioning a good ice cube tray, but my mom would give a spare ice cube tray and I'd freeze lemonade into cubes and then put cubes in the class with our iced tea, and as the lemonade melted into the iced tea, it was really a good summer drink.

  • 13:50:10

    NNAMDIGood memories to share. You are definitely a kidult, aren't you?

  • 13:50:14

    CAROLOh, yeah.

  • 13:50:16

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Carol. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. What are some of your favorite kinds of popsicles? You can send us a tweet @kojoshow. We got a tweet from TonyWWFF who says, "Mmm, strawberry ginger lemonade" is his favorite. And we got a tweet from Bruce Waltick (sp?) who says, "Flavorful, refreshing on a hot day, walk to a nearby store as a kid and buy one for a nickel." Heck, where I grew up they cost six cents.

  • 13:50:43

    NNAMDI"Carefully split the two parts to share." Good for you for sharing, Bruce. What have you found to be the impact of farmers' markets and food trucks on Washington D.C., Brian?

  • 13:50:58

    SYKORAWell, I think rally just creates a more vibrant food scene. When you have places like farmers' markets and the food truck opportunity that we're fortunate to have here in D.C., you see a lot of businesses starting out doing something very small, whether it's, you know, cookies or pops or, you know, a certain type of sandwich. You find people that are really passionate about that one thing, and are able to market it very quickly. So whether it's bringing it to a farmers' market or launching a food truck, I think it really lowers the barrier to entry, thus creating more creative kind of food ventures.

  • 13:51:34

    NNAMDIDo you see the transition from food trucks to permanent stores as a new trend for emerging restaurants and what about this process is smart in your view for a business owner?

  • 13:51:45

    SYKORAWell, I know a lot of people, when they wanted to start a food truck had the vision of eventually getting to a store or a fixed location, and one advantage of moving to a fixed location is you already have to rent kitchen space, so if you're renting a kitchen a downtown D.C., if you have the opportunity, it's great to have a fixed location there as well where you can sell. So I think it -- we'll see how it goes, but I think we've had a lot of food truck friends launch successful businesses as trucks, but also a lot of them are moving into brick and mortar.

  • 13:52:23

    NNAMDIOut of all of the food trucks cruising through Washington D.C., it seems that Big Papa, your food truck must be the coolest one of all, literally. But in this recent heat, how do you keep those treats cool throughout the day?

  • 13:52:37

    SYKORAThat's a secret.

  • 13:52:37

    NNAMDILike sailing around the world.

  • 13:52:39

    SYKORAWe do have a boat battery in our truck that powers the freezer while we're out and about. We also use freezer packs to keep them cold. But I will tell you, the past couple weeks at the farmers markets have been quite difficult.

  • 13:52:54

    NNAMDIA bit of a challenge, huh?

  • 13:52:55

    SYKORAYeah. By the end of the day.

  • 13:52:58

    NNAMDIKrystina, you explore in your book how pops can function for more than just a cool treat, and maybe serve as a post-workout boost or as an appetizer at a dinner party. Are there other enjoyable ways to incorporate pops into one's summer diet, and how do you make these kinds of pops?

  • 13:53:13

    CASTELLAWell, the first way that -- the first that you need to think about is when are you going to be eating the pop. So if you're eating it as a snack, you probably want a bigger pop that's more of the shape of the traditional popsicle, and think about what you want to get out of the snack, whether it's an ice cream treat or a creamy treat made from pudding or yogurt, or whether you're trying to get an energy boost from fruits and vegetables.

  • 13:53:38

    CASTELLABut when you're serving it as part of a meal or as an appetizer or alongside a meal, you're doing something very similar to what our caller did, which you can cast them in ice cube trays. There's a lot of silicone ice cube trays right now on the market that are really flexible so you can get some really good shapes out of that, or cast them in paper cups and rip the cup off. But you're thinking about making a smaller pop and you could serve it alongside a salad. Ginger works really well as a palate cleanser, so in between meals you can serve it along with a bed of fresh fruit.

  • 13:54:16

    CASTELLAYou can put some raspberry sauce or chocolate sauce on a plate for dipping, so there's a lot of really interesting creative things that you can do with a pop. You can serve three little pops next to each other that have flavors that contrast each other and complement each other.

  • 13:54:32

    NNAMDIAnd we got an email from Jacqueline who says, speaking of pops being more than treats, "Thanks for this discussion on one of my favorite treats, popsicles. Just wanted to share with your audience that these frozen treats are great to give to your aging loved ones who are at risk at dehydration, particularly during this very warm weather. They may refuse to drink water or other drinks, but they'll never say no to a Popsicle." Thank you very much for sharing that with us, Jackie. Here is Carol in Washington, D.C. Carol, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:55:01

    CAROLYes, hi. How are you?

  • 13:55:03

    NNAMDII'm well.

  • 13:55:04

    CAROLGood. Well, pops and ice cream, you know, they go together.

  • 13:55:08


  • 13:55:08

    CAROLAnd being in the health profession, I am very interested -- I'm very enticed by the varieties that I'm hearing out there. But is the nutritional value of the pops -- has that been addressed? Because we have an epidemic of obesity out there, epidemic of pre-diabetes. We want to be able to have people enjoy what they eat, but do it in a healthy way.

  • 13:55:31

    NNAMDIHere's Brian Sykora.

  • 13:55:33

    SYKORAThat's a great question. Yeah. We get asked about that at the markets quite often, and I will say that what we do is using fresh fruit you're able to take advantage of a lot of the natural sugars that are in fruit already. We try to add as little additional sugar, while still bringing out the flavor, but we have definitely tried to address that with our pops. I would say most are under a hundred calories, some even under 50. A lot of the fruit-based ones are. And a lot of times we don't really have to add much sugar at all to bring out the flavor.

  • 13:56:05

    NNAMDICarol, thank you very much for reminding us about that. Krystina, not only is the flavor important, maybe the nutritional value when you're making a pop, but you also take the presentation of the pop into mind. Is this simply a part of your creative enjoyment, or does presentation in some way enhance the flavor as well?

  • 13:56:24

    CASTELLAI think so. If you think about cake decorating and all different types of food arts, we are treated with our eyes when we see something, and that entices us, and with pops, there's so many things that you can do in terms of making a beautiful presentation at a party, or even just for yourself. So I think that it definitely affects the way that we perceive it while we're eating it.

  • 13:56:51

    NNAMDIWe got this comment on our website. "My husband and I quit smoking 20 years ago. We were at a little league game struggling with withdrawals from nicotine when an ice cream truck pulled into the parking lot. We discovered lemon popsicles that day which got us through the day. Popsicles are just the thing to excite your taste buds helping to give up the evil habit of smoking. Try it." That's another selling point for your Popsicles there, Brian. Brian, what are some of your own favorite pops? Were there any flavor combinations you experimented with that maybe didn’t turn out so well?

  • 13:57:24

    SYKORAYeah. Early on we definitely had some failures. Pineapple chili, we used a little bit too much chili powder, but one of my early favorites was strawberry rhubarb. My grandmother made a fantastic rhubarb and she recommended using a little orange zest in her pie, so I gave that a try with strawberry rhubarb, and it came out great.

  • 13:57:48

    NNAMDIAny that didn't come out great? Not -- he's not gonna mention here on...

  • 13:57:53

    SYKORAPineapple chili was one of them. We tried honeydew lime that really lacked flavor. We tried one more….

  • 13:58:01

    NNAMDII'm afraid that's about all the time we have. Brian Sykora is co-founder of Pleasant Pops. It's a business that sells pops and paletas in the D.C. area. Krystina Castella is the author of seven cookbooks including "Pops: Icy Treats for Everyone." She's practiced as an industrial designer for nearly 20 years.

  • 13:58:17

    NNAMDI"The Kojo Nnamdi Show" is produced by Brendan Sweeney, Michael Martinez, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff and Tayla Burney, with assistance from Kathy Goldgeier and Elizabeth Weinstein, and today assistance from Allie (word?) . Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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