Saturday, April 08, 2023

History of popsicles

Shaved ices and ice creams have existed for about a millennium. Ancient Roman slaves were sent up into the mountains to retrieve blocks of ice, to be crushed and served with fruit and spice syrups. Two businessmen calling themselves "Ross and Robbins" were selling frozen fruit on a stick in 1872 that they called the "Hokey Pokey".

Popsicle has such an interesting history that it’s almost Hollywood. On a hot day, nothing tastes better than an icy-cold Popsicle. This summer treat was invented by an 11-year-old Oakland native Francis Epperson. In San Francisco in 1905, Frank Epperson mixed some sugary soda powder into a glass of water, but then he left it out on his porch with the wooden stirring stick still in it.

That night, temperatures were so low and when Frank went outside the next morning, he found his drink frozen like an icicle. Frank took the frozen mixture out and licking it off the wooden stirrer.

Frank knew he had made something good, and soon he was selling the frozen treat to people in his neighborhood. He named it the “Epsicle.” (“Sicle” was a shortened version of “icicle.”)

In 1922, he introduced his treat at a firefighter's ball and it was a hit. In 1923, Epperson decided to expand sales beyond his neighborhood. He started selling the treat at Neptune Beach, a nearby amusement park. Dubbed a "West Coast Coney Island," the park featured roller coasters, baseball and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

He quickly patented the product in 1924. His kids convinced him to change the name to what they called it “Pop’s ‘Sicle,” which became the Popsicle.

In 1925, Epperson sold the rights to the Joe Lowe company, a move which he later regretted, stating “I haven’t been the same since.” During The Great Depression, one popsicle could feed two people and it was sold for $0.05 each under the Popsicle brand.

Epperson’s rival Good Humor bought the Popsicle in 1989, but by then was a subsidiary of Unilever, making the Oakland-born Popsicle a British-Dutch owned creation.
History of popsicles