It’s hard to think of a food product more emblematic of summer than the Popsicle. This notable piece of Americana is versatile, refreshing and full of flavor. It’s a cold treat for kids, and with a little added pick-me-up, it can be transformed into a frozen cocktail for adults. But what are the origins of the Popsicle? Read on as we take a look at the history of the ultimate icy-cold, summertime sweet.
Although it is hard to imagine a summer without Popsicles, what we know as the Popsicle today wasn’t invented until 1905. As the story goes, on a particularly cold evening in San Francisco, 11-year-old Frank Epperson accidentally left a combination of powdered soda, water and a stirring stick in a cup on his porch overnight only to find the mixture frozen in the morning. Soon after his discovery, he began to share the frozen treat with his friends at school. Eighteen years later, Epperson started to consider his icy-cold creation’s business potential.
Initially named the Epsicle, Epperson’s children started calling his frozen concoction the Popsicle as an homage to their “Pop.” In 1923, Epperson applied for a patent and began to sell his Popsicle treats in seven flavors for a nickel each. In 1925, he sold the rights to the brand name “Popsicle,” and after going through a few different organizations, Popsicle eventually found its home with the food company Good Humor.
During the Great Depression, the Twin Popsicle was invented so children could share them for only a nickel, and around the same time, the first “ice cream man” began selling Popsicles from a horse-drawn cart in Nebraska. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that the Popsicle really rose to ice cream truck dominance. It was then that the proliferation of freezers allowed people to store them in their own homes and the multi-pack began to appear in grocery stores across America. Now, two billion Popsicles in more than 30 flavors are sold around the world each year.
Although in the United States Popsicle stands with the likes of Kleenex and Jello as a genericized trademark, in other parts of the world it is referred to as an ice lolly, ice block, pop, ice pop or ice pole. Regardless of what you call it, this summertime favorite is loved and enjoyed by people all over the world.