Much like with other foods, the start of the ice cream popsicle market was also the result of chance. A young Frank Epperson, living in the San Francisco Bay Area during a cold winter in 1905, was playing on his front porch preparing a series of soft drink mixes. He left them outside and, when he returned a few hours later, he realized that the sodas had frozen, and he thought it was a fun way to eat them. Years later, he patented the process under the “Popsicle” trademark.
Since then, the ice cream concept known as the popsicle has spread worldwide, particularly as an industrially developed product.
Popsicles started trending strong in the artisan ice cream industry a few years back in countries like the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Panama. Today, these treats are also sold in ice cream shops, food stalls and street food trucks in different cities and towns in the Basque Country.
The popsicles that have been industrially developed are a far cry from the concept of artisan popsicles we know today. The former were produced from water and sugar, using additives to create different colours and flavours, and maintain the characteristic appearance and texture of ice. The concept of artisanal popsicles is completely different. Water or milk can be used as a base, and the addition of natural ingredients like fruits, dried fruit pastes, chocolates, cheeses, etc., provide colour and flavour. Which means that artisan popsicles taste and look different than their predecessors; they have a natural flavour, body, creamy texture, etc.
The development of popsicles has evolved significantly in recent years, and in some cases have even become gourmet products. A variety of flavour combinations; springy, hard or soft textures; and different fillings (liquid mixtures that are added to the centre of the popsicle) and toppings (chocolates, chopped nuts, etc., that cover the outside of the ice cream popsicle) can be used. Therefore, in addition to the use of premium raw materials, a good artisan popsicle must have a balanced formula and a controlled production process that defines the sensory quality of the ice cream popsicle; sweetness point (SP), freezing point (FP), hardness, elasticity, creaminess, intensity of flavour, etc.
At Dairy Centre we have been offering technological advice to the dairy industry for years, and that includes the development of artisan ice cream. Given the interest that the artisan dairy industry has shown in this form of diversification, this is why we are currently collaborating with different producers to develop a wide range of artisan popsicles based on cow’s and sheep’s milk.
This new variant of ice cream has also made a strong entry into the Basque market and its production can provide added value to local milk and be an opportunity for product and market diversification.