Archived Story

Popsicles still a hit with baby boomers [UPDATED]

Published 7:48am Monday, July 23, 2012 Updated 1:51pm Monday, July 23, 2012

Many people who grew up as kids in the 1950s remember popsicle flavors of that era that included root beer, lemon, lime, cherry, orange, banana, grape and watermelon. In the following decade the Murmaids (Fischer sisters) recorded their hit song “Popsicles and Icicles.”

Today, many of those same baby boomers, at the start of their retirement years, are making their own popsicles at home. Many use the tried and true plastic containers and sticks. Others rely on popsicle makers that are high tech.

Among them is a ice popmaker that can produce three popsicles within 10 minutes. Up to six popsicles can be made before the base requires refreezing.

As a gift from my wife, Sharon, I have a high tech popsicle maker and am recapturing a childhood joy. This past week we made popsicles with a mixture of lemonade and strawberries.

Before you make popsicles, store your high tech unit (a device smaller than a toaster) in your freezer for several hours. After you are ready to begin the process, pour in the juice, insert the sticks and within a few minutes you have your own specially created popsicle.

Before reusing the popsicle maker, be sure to dry the holders or else they will stick inside the machine and you won’t be able to pull out your popsicle. I learned the hard way on what to do and what not to do.

All of this raises interesting historical questions, such as how and when did popsicles become part of our lives.

In 1905 in San Francisco, 11-year-old Frank Epperson was mixing a flavoring for soda and water out on the porch. He left it there, with a stirring stick still in it. That night, temperatures reached a record low. The next morning, as noted on the popsicle history website, he discovered the drink had frozen to the stick. This inspired Epperson to produce a fruit-flavored popsicle.

And, as the cliché goes, the rest is history.

Eighteen years later, in 1923, Epperson introduced frozen pop on a stick to the public at Neptune Beach, an amusement park in Alameda, Calif. His venture was a success. A year later he applied for a patent for his frozen treat which he called the Epsicle ice pop. He later renamed it the Popsicle.

In 1925, Epperson sold the Popsicle rights to the Joe Lowe Company of New York.

In April 1939, Popsicle Pete was introduced on the radio program Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. The character told listeners that they could win presents by sending wrappers from Popsicle products to the manufacturer.

During the 1940s, Popsicle Pete advertisements were created by Woody Gelman and his partner, Ben Solomon. The ads appeared in print, television commercials and activity books until 1995.

Popsicles were purchased by kids at corner grocery stores in Fergus Falls and other area communities and were especially popular from the 1950s to the 1970s.

In June 2006, Popsicles with natural flavors and colors were introduced, replacing the original versions. In addition, Popsicle provides several sugar-free flavors.

Many popsicle makers successfully use their imagination. They include cut-up fruit such as pineapple, oranges, peaches, different kinds of fruit juices, and yogurt.

In recent days celebrities such as TV personality Heidi Klum and actress Jennifer Garner have satisfied their warm weather cravings with popsicles. Their photos have appeared in newspapers and celebrity publications. Popsicles are favorites with people in all walks of life.

Making your own popsicles is fast, fun and cost-effective. Most important is that home-made popsicles taste great.

 

Tom Hintgen writes a weekly column for The Journal.

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