A hot summer’s day in the south conjures up many images… homemade lemonade, chilled beer, sun-kissed freckles, the warm orange glow of dusk… and in Atlanta, little white carts with unmistakable rainbow-colored umbrellas. Yes, these umbrellas are not only shady relief from the relentless sun. They’re also landmark blessings to us overheated souls in Hot-lanta. King of Pops is a summer savior!
Every time I spot their little carts filled with popsicles, I spot a line, usually a long one. But the wait is always worth while because these chilly treats are just what you need when your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth and you are delirious with heat. Over three years, King Of Pops has become a sensation. The idea was the offspring of travels to Central America by three brothers. Heard of paletas? Well, I hadn’t until I did some research. They’re pure fruit or milk-based popsicles, found typically in Central America. However, similar versions are common in many hot, tropical climates around the world. Key to quality paletas is using fruit at its peak season, offering flavors to tantalize the taste buds.
King of Pops spins the flavor wheel to produce highly prized flavors like salted chocolate, pineapple cilantro and coconut lemongrass. They use locally sourced items whenever possible. The day I visited, peach popsicles were in full production. These peaches are from Pearson Peaches. Just peachy indeed!
With it being early in the peach season, the fruit has a hard time separating from the pip so it takes a little more manipulation and preparation. The sliced peaches are placed in a large container to be processed by an industrial size hand blender. Pretty powerful piece of equipment and with all the soups and smoothies I make, this would be an awesome addition to my kitchen!
One ingredient added to the peachy pulp is freshly squeezed lemon juice, and with the help of these juicers, the juicing is done quickly and efficiently to make the required volume.
Add a pinch of salt and viola! You have a mixture ready for popsicle setting. These chillers are incredible. They have the capacity for two hundred popsicles, which take about thirty minutes to set. You can only imagine how often these get filled during the day to meet the big demand in Atlanta.
Once packaged, they’re stored in freezers according to type with the milk blends separated from the fruit-only blends. I saw many flavors on the storage chart, and hope I’ll have a chance to eat my way through these over the course of the summer…
And the grand finale… loading into the infamous white carts that find their way to all corners of the city. Besides farmers markets and festivals, King of Pops caters at corporate events and even weddings. And if it’s your birthday and you’re having a big bash, they are happy to serve popsicles in your favorite flavors to your party guests. Please can I?
Did I mention that King of Pops is not exclusive to Atlanta? They are branching out. I guess us Atlantans have to learn to share! During my visit popsicles were being packaged to be sent Earth Fare stores in Augusta, Charleston and Athens. From a small, brother-run ‘dream come to true’ to a major artisan enterprise, King of Pops is certainly the king of all things popsicle.
Jess Avasthi, Real Time Farms Food Warrior Alum
Keeping Food Real