Smile Politely

Pops worth the stop

The Pop Stop, Inc. rolled into Urbana’s Market at the Square last summer selling popsicles. And the trailer was parked at last summer’s Taste of C-U, and we shared our love for the delicious frozen treats then. But a year or so into the business, has The Pop Stop maintained it’s initial success? I recently decided to find out.

In addition to its food trailer, The Pop Stop now has a tricycle. There’s one tire in the back, and two in the front, cradling a freezer. This is simultaneously badass and ridiculous looking, but it’s the perfect way to have a maneuverable popsicle transportation system. The trike is regularly at both the Champaign and Urbana farmers’ markets. In Urbana, it can be a little hard to spot. It’s usually mid-way in the 3rd or 4th row; it’s not with the rest of the food truck vendors.

Last Saturday I decided my breakfast was going to be popsicles. And then on Tuesday’s Land Connection Farmers’ Market, I had dessert before dinner. At $2.50 each, these popsicles are not cheap. But after chowing down on more than a few, I can attest to their deliciousness. Sure, you can make most of the flavors at home, but why take away from the specialness of treating yourself or your loved one to a popsicle at the market?

I think my favorite of all the popsicles I tried was the lemon froyo. It was creamy and soft. The tanginess of the yogurt worked well with the slightly tart, but wholly refreshing lemon. It wasn’t overly sweet, so eating it at 9 a.m. on a Saturday made me feel less guilty. It was just frozen yogurt, after all.

In the creamy category was also the salted caramel. This was a close second behind the lemon yogurt. A gelato-style popsicle, the salted caramel was indeed creamy and soft in texture. The richness of the milk-based treat was matched by the rich yet subtle combination of salted caramel. The flavor, though, wasn’t overbearing, and not at all overly sweet. The popsicle hinted at saltiness and sweet caramel, but didn’t beat your mouth with it. It was a popsicle that an adult and a kid could really enjoy.

Speaking of which, the cereal milk with fruity pebbles also meets the kid-tested, adult approved standard. Perhaps you’re the type who really, really loves nutritionless sugary cereals marketed to children. Perhaps your kid also loves that cereal, and you deny yourself and your kid that pleasure because you’re trying to avoid diabetes. Enter the cereal milk and fruity pebbles popsicle. The delicious ice-creamy milk combines perfectly with the sweet, gem colored corn flakes, softening them enough for it to seem just like you’re eating that delicious cereal while sitting on the couch watching Saturday morning cartoons. So, so good, but it might have an aftertaste of nostalgia.

Perhaps you’re sick and tired of popsicles and doughnuts and other sweet treats being dressed up like a toddler in a beauty pageant. The Pop Stop also has its own takes on the classics, with sorbet-style fruit pops like watermelon. The watermelon was elegant. It was insanely fragrant, and perfectly simple. It tasted just like watermelon. No artificial sweeteners or cups of sugar to “enhance” the natural flavors. It just was. And it was refreshing. (It’d be even more delicious with mint, if you ask me.)

As a yogurt-style pop, the berry parfait was like eating a smoothie on a stick. A mix of pureed berries and whole berries melded together with some granola to create a filling little snack on a stick. The fruitiness felt healthy, and the whole berries and granola within added a bit of texture to the frozen yogurt concoction.

It’s nice when you can experience contemporary takes on classics, and amp up traditional flavors with something slightly unexpected. The apricot star anise pop was delightful. Apricots are so adaptable to many applications, savory or sweet. In popsicle form, they were enhanced with some star anise, which, on its own, could be considered aggressive and undesirable in a popsicle. But this pop worked so well that I devoured it so quickly it didn’t have time to being to melt. The sweet apricot paired with the earthy, spicy anise was sweet and savory, but in brighter, sassier way than something like salted caramel. It was sort of like Christmas in July. I could have easily paired it with some meat on a stick — a kebab, perhaps — and had a full on meal. If you see this one on the menu, pick it up and give it a go. It’s well worth it.

And finally, I can’t talk (or write) about popsicles without mentioning the ultimate classic: the fudgesicle. The Pop Stop’s was pretty damn good. In fact, it was pretty great. It’s called “The Perfect Fudgesicle,” and it’s for a good reason. It was creamy and chocolatey, and not too sweet, with just the right texture: a little soft, a little fudgy, not icy. You have to eat the fudgesicle and other gelato-style popsicles immediately, as they’re prone to melt quickly. But as you may have gathered, I didn’t allow that to happen.

The Pop Stop, Inc. is a playful addition to mobile food in C-U. The price of the popsicle is well worth it, although I admit that I’d like for them to last a little longer. I suppose I’ll have to learn to eat them more slowly.

You can check The Pop Stop’s schedule on its website, as well as Facebook and Twitter. For popsicle porn, check out its Instagram account. Find the popsicle tricycle at Urbana’s Market at the Square each Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon.

Photos by Jessica Hammie.


More Articles