An accidental invention: the history of the Popsicle

watermelon jalapeno ice pops Popsicles define summertime for many US children. The brightly-colored, fruit-flavored frozen treats are the perfect foil to a hot, sticky summer afternoon. Popsicles are adored by children but did you know that they were also invented by one? NPR's The Salt tells the story of how an 11-year-old accidentally created the frozen treat over 100 years ago.

In 1905, Frank Epperson, a boy living in the San Francisco Bay area, "mixed some sugary soda powder with water and left it out overnight. It was a cold night, and the mixture froze. In the morning, Epperson devoured the icy concoction, licking it off the wooden stirrer." He named his invention the "Epsicle" and began selling the treat around his neighborhood. Several years later Epperson applied for a patent and changed the name, at the urging of his kids, to what they were calling the treat - Popsicle (Pops' sicle).

While the story of the Popsicle's creation is charming, it doesn't have a very happy ending. A broke Epperson sold the rights to his creation to the Joe Lowe Co. in the late 1920s: "I was flat and had to liquidate all my assets," he later said. "I haven't been the same since." Popsicle remained independent until 1989, when food giant Unilever scooped up the rights to the frozen treat. 

While Popsicles may be perfect for kids, the EYB Library has recipes for frozen pops that will suit young and old alike. Try the Watermelon-jalapeño ice pops from Cooking Light Magazine by David Bonom (pictured above) or the highly-rated Yogurt ice pops with berries (Paletas de yogurt con moras) from Paletas by Fany Gerson. You'll find over 300 more fruit and cream ice pop recipes in the Library.


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