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What Is an Ice Pop?

By Valerie Goldberg
Updated May 16, 2024
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Ice pops are a frozen dessert that are eaten off a stick. Ice pops are made by freezing liquids such as water or juice around a wooden stick that protrudes from the middle and functions as its handle. As the liquid becomes frozen, the ice will attach itself to the stick. Professionally manufactured ice pops usually contain corn syrup, liquid sugar and various colors of food dye and flavoring.

Frank Epperson is credited with inventing the first ice pop. Epperson was 11 years old in 1905 when he accidentally left a cup of water and soda powder outside with a stirring stick in it. Overnight, the mixture froze. As Epperson removed his treat from the cup, he was amazed by how the mold remained intact on the stick. He consumed his accidental treat on the spot, creating the first known ice pop.

Epperson decided to patent his frozen desert in 1924. He named his creation the Popsicle®. Epperson sold the rights to the Popsicle® brand soon after that, but his creation has remained popular. In fact, many people aren't aware that Popsicle® is a brand name of ice pops and not a generic name.

Hundreds of flavors and varieties of ice pops exist in the 21st century. Basic flavors such as cherry, orange and grape are still around. Newer spin-offs of the ice pop have found their place in the frozen dessert market as well.

Some ice pops are made in layers. As people lick the ice pop, the flavor will change. Sugar-free ice pops are also sold to accommodate a more health-conscious consumer bracket.

Fudge pops are popular spin-off of the ice pop. These ice pops contain cocoa powder and milk. Fudge pops typically taste like a cross between an ice pop and chocolate ice cream.

Even though kids remain the main consumer of ice pops, frozen desserts on a stick geared toward adults have made their way into grocery stores over the years. Many of these treats contain small pieces of real fruit in the ice pop. Some companies also make a more mature line of flavors to appeal to a grown up audience. Coconut, pomegranate and peach are popular flavors that are marketed to older consumers.

Ice pops can be made at home, and molds are sold in classic ice pop shapes with plastic, reusable sticks. Any type of juice can be poured into the mold, and then the stick component is slid into place. The mold should be left in the freezer for a few hours, and then the homemade ice pops will be ready to enjoy. Simple pops can be made using only an ice cube tray, juice a juice-like beverage and toothpicks. Although ice cube tray pops are small and can be a little messy to enjoy, this easy-to-do project can be fun for children.

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