Forget for a moment the present and send your thoughts spinning back to the hot summer days of childhood. You’re riding your bike somewhere with a couple of friends, maybe on the way to read comic books at the drugstore, the temperature outside has sweat dripping off the end of your nose and you’re craving something wet, cold and sweet. Unable to hold out until reaching the drugstore’s air conditioned comfort, everyone skids to a halt at the corner store and dashes inside for that surefire relief buried in the store’s freezer—a Popsicle.
Back then the choices were limited to red, orange or purple and for your nickel you got a delicious freeze of water, sugar, artificial flavor and color that left the lips and tongue brightly stained, most of us ending up with a few cherry or grape splotches on our white T-shirts. The Popsicles or ice pops of today bare only slight resemblance to those summer treats of my childhood. Now we have something that is made from fresh fruit and quality ingredients and is low-calorie. Large cities like New York, San Francisco and Nashville have stores specializing in artisan ice pops with flavors like chocolate avocado, tangerine beet and cucumber mint lime and instead of a nickel you’ll spend more like $3.00 for one.
According to the popular line in our cultural history, one night in 1905, eleven year-old Frank Epperson left a mixture of powdered soda, water, and a stirring stick in a cup on his San Francisco porch. It was a cold night and the boy walked out onto his porch the next morning to find a frozen pop. He dubbed it the “Epsicle” and tried it out with friends at school. Everyone liked it and so Epperson continued making them over the years. Married and with kids of his own, he made them for the children and they began calling them “Pop’s ’sicle.” In 1923 Epperson patented the name Popsicle, but two years later sold the rights to the brand name. The two-stick Popsicles most of us loved were introduced sometime during the Depression.
But leave it to the Japanese to take the Popsicle to another level. We’ve heard before of their chicken wing and horse meat-flavored ice creams, so taking the ice pop to a new level should come as small surprise. According to Rocket News, Japan’s Gari Gari Kun has come out with a limited edition flavor that sold out within three days of its September 4 release. The company often comes out with different or seasonal flavored ice cream, usually something along the lines of pear or melon, or that perennial summer favorite, watermelon ice bars. This time they’ve veered off the charts with something called Gari Gari Kun Cream of Corn Soup ice bar.
A reporter from Rocket News described it this way… ‘On tasting this special treat, I was delighted by the flavor that melted in my mouth. Mmmm! The sweetness was just right. As the creamy corn flavor spread across my tongue I could picture the stalks, heavy with ears of fat corn, bending with the wind in the fields of Hokkaido.’ Overstatement perhaps, but worth a try?