Above: Three flavors of ice pops offered by Steel City Pops. SPECIAL
Summer heat in Atlanta leaving you feel like wilted lettuce? Inside of the mouth tasting like the Sahara? Relief is in sight. For a few George Washingtons, you can beat the heat with thrills, chills and spills.
A growing number of specialty and gourmet ice pop (think Popsicle) makers in Atlanta are crafting treats that thrill the taste buds and put a momentary chill on July’s steamy heat.
A great leap beyond the frozen-flavored-water-on-a-stick creations you remember from childhood, these are made with fresh fruits and creams, locally sourced herbs and spices and natural sweetening. Avocado, anyone? Maybe a tequila pop? Seems like if your taste buds can dream it up, these folks can satisfy.
King of Pops
Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta. Also available in markets, bars and from pushcarts. Info: kingofpops.com.
Three brothers inspired by Latin American-style fresh fruit pops decided to start a company selling the frozen treats after jettisoning corporate America. Their counter at Ponce City Market is cluttered, a little quirky and well patronized.
Raspberry Lime: Made with fresh raspberries and fresh limes, this delightful treat leaps out and seizes your taste buds with its berry deliciousness. The underlying lime is a more subtle accent. For a creamy side treat, try the divine chocolate sea salt. The owners say most of their pops have between three and five ingredients. Price $3.
Steel City Pops
312 Church Street, Decatur. Info: steelcitypops.com.
The family-owned business originated in Birmingham, hence the “Steel City” moniker. The owners also drew inspiration from Mexican-style paletas. Their Decatur shop has a sleek post-modern feel, with their production facility next door, viewable through glass. It’s a craft-brewery spot feel for hand-crafted pops.
Coffee: It’s like a coffee ice cream, dreamy and creamy. The coffee taste predominates, but doesn’t overwhelm. If only the coffee in the break room tasted like this. Ingredients include brewed local espresso, cream, water, organic cane sugar and Turkish ground local coffee. Price $3.59.
No physical location yet, but you can catch them at various events around town. Info: mokipops.com.
They stress fresh, local and vegan. The company was begun by three kid siblings after their mother challenged them to start a business instead of spending their summer tethered to electronic devices. One of the three has created more than half of their seasonally-oriented flavors.
Hibiscus Strawberry: It’s very fruity with an extra tang that’s slightly sour and it has sort of a cinnamon taste on the back end — a great blend. My spouse said, “I’ve never tasted anything quite like it.” It’s made with fresh-harvested hibiscus, whole strawberries, fresh-squeezed lemon, ginger root, natural cane sugar, xanthan gum and salt. The basil lemonade also plays fruit and spice off against each other; it’s their top seller. Price $3.
Paleteria La Michoacana
737 Roswell Street NE, Marietta. Info: 770-422-8893.
They specialize in Mexican-style ice pops. The brightly hued spot is decorated with balloons and piñatas, and Spanish-language ballads issue from the sound system.
Tequila: Maybe they should have named this one “Margarita.” It has that sweet, tangy edge, but a paler flavor than what you’ll find at, say, a Tex-Mex Restaurant. The coconut pop is great as well; it’s so loaded with fresh coconut that it has a meaty consistency. You’ll find candy sprinkles at the bottom of many of the pops — a nice touch. Price $2.