We recently listed the five things missing from the Houston restaurant scene., and you can add popsicles to that list. Unless you visit a grocery store or paleta stand in our city, you'll have a difficult time finding a vendor who strictly sells popsicles.
Richard and Rebecca Lynch decided popsicles were the way to go after first looking at other foods. On June 22 they opened their "mom and pop" shop Popcart Handmade Ice Pops.
"Back in August 2012, my wife was laid off from her job, so we had wanted to start our business for a while, and my wife has always loved food, so I said, 'Why don't you look into starting a little food business of some sort?' We had no idea it would be popsicles," Richard says. "And then my wife came across a recipe book on popsicles one day and said, 'That's it!' So she started experimenting in the kitchen; she bought little plastic molds and that's where it all began."
Currently, Popcart appears at the Tomball Farmers Market each Saturday and the Urban Harvest Eastside Farmers Market every Sunday. Starting September 10, the duo will sell their pops at the Wednesday Urban Harvest City Hall Farmers Market.
Rebecca makes all of the pops from the Noble Kitchen in Old Town Spring. She gathers recipes from other sources, modifies them and adds her own touch. The popsicles fall into two categories: Dairy-based and fruit-based. A lot of her flavor ideas are inspired by desserts, like the brigadeiro, a Brazilian chocolate bonbon made with sweetened condensed milk, and a peach melba, an ice cream dessert topped with raspberries and peaches.
The Lynch's neighbor's 9-year-old daughter has helped them create some of the best flavors, too.
"She'll give me a list all the time," Rebecca says. "Anything cherry. Anything red. She wants banana. Banana is kind of hard to work with, because when you freeze it, it gets really really sweet, so I have to find ways to tone down that sweetness. But she comes up with recipes, and I am always taking suggestions from people."
Popcart caters to a variety of customers; while children might opt for the classic strawberry pop, or top-selling strawberry lemonade and salted watermelon fruit-based treats, adults can indulge in something unique, such as the grapefruit pomegranate rose, blackberry lime verbena or Vietnamese coffee.
"Of course, we are still trying new flavors," Rebecca says. "I made a ginger-lime mint that people went nuts over last weekend, so we will probably add that to the regular lineup...[It tastes] like a margarita with ginger."
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Once the summer months are over, and those shorts and flip flops are exchanged for jeans and boots, Rebecca hopes to continue selling fall and winter-flavored pops.
"It all depends on how it goes," she says. "I like winter pops; I like fall flavors. I mean, they are some of the best. Like when pomegranates come in season -- of course, you know, this is me, because I run a popsicle business, but I love the winter too. It's a wait and see kind of thing. I know a lot of pops companies go on hiatus for the winter, but Houston has a little bit of a longer season. But if not, we will be building our business during the winter and making other decisions, and then start back up again in the spring."
Currently, the lineup includes more fruit-based than dairy-based flavor. But, if Popcart continues to sell its products in the fall and winter months, customers can expect more creamy flavors.
"We would like to maybe get into a few stores, a few small co-ops, or something like that," Richard says. "We don't want to become a popsicle factory where all we are doing is mass producing large amounts of popsicles."