King of Pops Chilling the Southeast
Getting into the popsicle business wasn’t part of Steven Carse’s original career plan. It just evolved organically out of a love for paletas—Latin American ice pops that Steven and his two brothers discovered during their travels in Central America. When Carse became victim of an AIG corporate layoff, he turned his attention to creating all-natural popsicles and King of Pops was born. Then his brother, Nick, left his legal career to join in the business and it’s taken off. They launched the first King of Pops in Atlanta and added kitchens in Charleston, S.C., Charlotte, N.C., and Richmond, Va.
“We are in constant experimentation,” said Carse. “We probably started with about 25 different flavors and since we began four years ago we’ve made about 400 different flavors.”
Chocolate Sea Salt is at the top of the popularity list. Other favorites include Tangerine Basil, Raspberry Lime, and Carse’s personal pick Banana Pudding.
Most of the popsicles are all fruit. They also have vegan options, and if they have any dairy varieties they use non-homogenized, grass-fed milk. “There’re no gums or preservatives or artificial flavorings in our products. The ingredient list is very clean,” he said, “and we use as many local products as we can.”
“People are always excited to try new flavors,” said Carse. “Our popsicles are only $2.50 so it’s not a big risk if you don’t love it.”
A King of Pops kitchen will be added in Savannah next year, plus they have plans to start their own farm where they’ll begin growing herbs and berries and branch out to other fruits. They offer cart sales at farmer’s markets and street food events plus the popsicles are also found in Whole Foods and Earth Fare in the cities where they are located.
GoodPops Going Strong in Texas
The owner of GoodPops in Austin, Texas, had a similar beginning in 2009 when he fell in love with paletas in Mexico. “When I got back to the states I couldn’t find anything quite like it,” said Daniel Goetz. “We have frozen fruit bars and popsicles, but nothing with just fresh fruit.”
He also wanted a healthy snack free from preservatives and artificial ingredients, so he set out to make his own.
“I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great to have an all-natural fruit bar that people can enjoy at farmer’s markets and eventually buy at Whole Foods,’” said Goetz.
He started with 18 flavors and paid close attention to customer feedback as he decided which varieties would make the cut for his six staple flavors that he currently produces year round. He also mixes in a couple of seasonal flavors each year.
In terms of popularity, the Cold Brew Coffee popsicle is a big winner. “We use organic fair trade coffee that we cold brew ourselves for 24 hours and combine with fresh Texas dairy and organic cane sugar,” he said. “Strawberry Lemonade has also been excellent for us. We just launched that flavor this year and it’s been flying off the shelves.”
Goetz began the company when he was 23 and says it’s surprised him how much is involved in the process.
“There’s an incredible amount of work to not only making a product that’s fantastic, but making it fantastic every time,” he said. “The fresh fruit can fluctuate, like when there is a drought affecting the supply. The purpose behind my company is not just to produce a product that tastes good, but to give back to the local community, do good and make people happy.”