Of course, she’d had Popsicles in the past.
But this one was different. It was watermelon. With chunks of real, fresh fruit. She wasn’t used to the texture and the pure, vibrant flavor.
“I’d never had one like it before,” said Jenna Rademan, who was in Cozumel at the time she tried her first paleta. It was hot. And the ice pop was particularly refreshing. In fact, “It was the best Popscicle I ever had,” she said. It was hands-down “delicious.”
Rademan had her first paleta in Mexico in early March. By the end of April, she had announced on Facebook that her new specialty ice pop business would debut at the Thursday Market in the South Perry District on June 21.
Thursday does, in fact, mark the debut of Poppy Gourmet Ice Pops at the popular Perry Street market. The company officially launched mid-May and specializes in frozen treats inspired by paletas found in Mexico.
As soon as she returned to Spokane, Rademan began doing research, learning what kind of licensing she’d need to get and regulations she’d have to follow to open her own paleta stand or cart.
“I was shocked to find out all the stuff you have to go through just to make Popsicles,” she said. “I learned you can’t make them out of your own home.”
The part-time dental hygienist had never owned her own business. But she was undeterred. She chose the name Poppy because it’s “short and simple,” something, she said, “that people could remember.”
She researched label-making and made her own. She researched websites and made her own. She makes the ice pops, too. She also seals the packaging herself.
She and her mom created the cart from which they sell them as well as the sandwich board with which to advertise them. A friend painted the sign as well as the truck, which she hopes will become a signature part of her stand. She had it painted the colors of her business: black, white and teal.
“I love the color teal. It’s my favorite color ever,” she said.
Rademan, originally from Missoula, moved to Spokane about 10 years ago. She was working as a dental assistant before going to Eastern Washington University to study dental hygiene. She graduated last year with a bachelor of science. In her spare time, she enjoys home decorating.
“I love trying new things and just being creative,” she said. “I’m very motivated. When I get an idea in my head, I just go for it.”
Also, she said, “I love food.”
In the beginning of March, she spent a week in Mexico where she discovered paletas, flavor-packed ice pops made from fresh fruit or rich cream and, sometimes, nuts and spices, even flowers. They’re typically made with all-natural and only a few ingredients.
Paleta translates to little shovel or small stick in Spanish. They are hand-held, served on small sticks usually sold by street vendors.
When she returned home to Spokane, Rademan was hoping to be able to make them without any added sugar. But, through experimentation, soon learned she needed some sugar to keep her ice pops from freezing into rock-hard cubes of ice.
“I did all this research on Popscicles,” she said. “You definitely need some sugar so they’ll freeze right.”
Still, she tries to use as little sugar as possible, making simple syrup out of cane sugar and using it sparingly. She also uses organic fruit.
Her first flavor was also inspired by her trip to Mexico, where she cooled off not just with paletas but refreshing mint mojitos. She created a pineapple mojito flavor with pineapple, lime and mint.
“It’s really fun for me,” she said. “You can put your own spin on it in a million different ways.”
Many of her flavors include pieces of real fruit, much like she found in paletas in Mexico. “It’s not your typical texture. It has an icy texture to it,” she said. “This is very small batch, and I want to keep it that way. What I’ve noticed is that when I make larger portions they don’t turn out the same. I want to focus on the quality of the Popsicle.”
She makes up to 100 at a time, selling her 3-ounce ice pops for $3.50 each.
Flavors include Mango Tango – mango with a kick from cayenne pepper – as well as huckleberry-jalapeno, watermelon-cucumber, blueberry-basil, strawberry-lemon and Flathead cherry, which combines fresh cherries with pineapple chunks. Look, also, for Coco Loco, a combination of fudge and toasted coconut, and Orange Dreamsicle, a horchata-style ice pop with freshly squeezed orange juice and vanilla.
Some are gluten-free. Some are vegan. Some contain dairy.
During taste-tasting and flavor development, “I was literally eating like 10 Popsicles a day,” said Rademan, who’s already dreaming of opening a storefront. “I think it would be awesome to have a little shop somewhere where you make them and sell them,” she said.
Meantime, she’s available for weddings and events and is working on other ways to expand her small business, such as brainstorming flavors for fall and winter.
“I would love to have this be a year-round thing,” she said.
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