Ice-Pop Biz: Cool And Fresh, But Will It Be Hot? Friends Brian Sykora and Roger Horowitz create fruit ice pops inspired by the traditional Mexican frozen treat paletas. Though they're not making a living from it yet, the entrepreneurs are selling Pleasant Pops from a bicycle cart at a weekly farmers market. Their best seller? Cucumber chili.
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Ice-Pop Biz: Cool And Fresh, But Will It Be Hot?

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Ice-Pop Biz: Cool And Fresh, But Will It Be Hot?

Ice-Pop Biz: Cool And Fresh, But Will It Be Hot?

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Finally, to a budding business that's been helped along by the extreme heat we've been having here in Washington. It's one of those ventures that might make you wonder, now, why didn't I think of that?

NPR's Andrea Hsu has the story behind Pleasant Pops.

Unidentified Man #1: Thank you very much.

ANDREA HSU: Look around the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market, it seems every other person has got a frozen treat in hand, but don't be mistaken, these are not popsicles. That's a trademark term owned by Unilever. So, say, the guys with the bike cart cooler, these are ice pops, not the ones you grew up with, but more modern flavors - peaches and ginger, strawberry rhubarb, watermelon and black pepper, all made with ingredients from the market itself.

Mr. ROGER HOROWITZ (Founder, Pleasant Pops): You guys have watermelons today?

Mr. JARED SYKES(ph): Yeah. Lots of watermelons, cantaloupes.

HSU: Roger Horowitz, half of the Pleasant Pops duo, checks in with his vendors. The bad news for Jared Sykes of Richville Farms(ph), no cucumbers this week.

Mr. SYKES: And they're not producing well, so we got to wait for the next planting.

Mr. HOROWITZ: Okay. Cool. I mean, cucumber chili is probably our biggest seller so far.

Mr. SYKES: They're also out really quick.

HSU: That's right, cucumber chili, a nod to Mexican ice pops or paletas, which inspired this whole thing. Cucumber chili is one of 60 flavors Roger Horowitz and his friend Brian Sykora have tried making since early last year, after Brian spotted an empty storefront and asked Roger, want to open a business?

Mr. BRIAN SYKORA (Founder, Pleasant Pops): I said sure. What do you want to open? And I said, oh, what do you think about popsicles?

HSU: The storefront isn't a reality yet, so this summer, they've been renting kitchen space from a cafe. There, they juice the fruit, blend in sugar and sometimes milk or cream and pour it all into molds.

On a recent evening, they were blackberry and creampuffs in the making, as well as blackberry basil and cream.

Mr. HOROWITZ: Brian, whose idea was it to add basil to the blackberries and cream?

Mr. SYKORA: I'll give you (unintelligible).

Mr. HOROWITZ: Okay. Thanks. It was my idea.

HSU: Buying local ingredients is expensive. And even at 2.50 a pop, they're not making a living off this.

Mr. HOROWITZ: No, not yet, but we hope to in the near future.

HSU: The first goal, they say, is to become ramen profitable.

Mr. HOROWITZ: To be able to just feed ourselves off, you know, Top Ramen or beans and rice or something cheap.

HSU: And in the meantime, they do have day jobs. Horowitz is a preschool teacher, and Sykora is with the National Democratic Institute. He's got a project in Afghanistan. There are other gourmet ice pop shops around the country, in Austin, Nashville, New York. So far, D.C. seems to like the idea.

Mr. PAUL MARQUART(ph): It's very refreshing on a hot juicy day.

Ms. THERESA PIERCE(ph): It was wonderful, so it's a Saturday morning tradition.

Mr. Kirk Anderson(ph): It's really gingery and peachy. It tastes like it's made from fresh stuff. It's awesome.

HSU: And if the opinions of market goers Paul Marquart, Theresa Pierce and Kirk Anderson aren't enough, Roger Horowitz also got thumbs up from a couple of its preschool students and their moms.


Unidentified Child: (Unintelligible).

HSU: And 15 minutes before the farmers market closed, Pleasant Pops completely sold out. Now, the trick is making that happen come fall.

Andrea Hsu, NPR News.

BLOCK: And you can find out how to make your own strawberry rhubarb pops at home and share your favorite recipe at

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