Origin of the Popsicle

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Old 19-Jun-2012
Origin of the Popsicle

It just isn’t summer without a Popsicle. That frosty, fruity, yummy treat always hits the spot on a hot day. Ever wonder who came up with the idea to make these delicious treats? I’m about to blow your mind… they were invented by an eleven-year-old boy who just couldn’t stop playing with his food. That’s right! In 1905, Frank Epperson was living in San Francisco and living his life as a regular kid in the city. One night, while sitting on his porch, he was playing around with a small stick, using it to mix up his powdered soda in a cup. He wandered inside for the night, and as children often do, left his concoction and tools outside overnight. San Francisco can get pretty cool at night, and this evening was no exception. When Epperson returned to the porch the following morning, he was surprised to find that his sugary drink had frozen into a sweet frozen icicle… on a stick! Clearly, he had to name this delicious invention after himself, and thus the “Epsicle” was born.

Now, this was back in 1905, so the idea of kid-entrepreneurs, let alone communities like Kickstarter, were totally unheard of. But that didn’t stop Epperson. He got all of his friends hooked on Epsicles, and later in life, shared the treat with his children. When his kids wanted the delicious frozen desert, they’d ask for “A Pop’s ‘sicle”… the name stuck: Popsicle it is! Cute, right?

In 1923, Epperson Sr. applied for patents to secure the design for his “frozen confectionery.” Within the documents are explicit instructions as to how the icy treat was made. Instructions included:

Product Consistency: “Syrup results in a crystalline product of hard, snowy consistency”

Stick Material: “Employ a wooden stick of relatively porous though sapless and tasteless wood”

Freezing Method: “Rapid refridgeration results in a more uniform product”

Vessel Shape: “Ordinary test tubes”

And there you have it: the Popsicle was OFFICIAL and patented. Sure, Popsicles have improved since then (in taste, size, and creation), but without Epperson Sr. listing the basic guidelines, who knows what kind of frozen treats we would be enjoying. So why can’t we just look at this patent and learn how to make our own Popsicles at home? Sure, there are plenty of DIY homemade recipes, but we can’t really seem to nail the consistency of the store-bought brands. This is because we just simply do not have the tools necessary for creating a legit store-quality. Sure, Popsicles are basically sugar, water, and flavors, but when they hit the cold air, these ingredients don’t really mesh well. In order to get a nice consistency/flavor to the store-quality Popsicles, the concoction must be chilled in a brine bath set to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. This setup forces the water to freeze all at once, instead of in stages, where the blended particles can settle differently throughout the process. Also, incorporating ingredients like xanthan, gum, and locust bean help thicken the liquid that forms the Popsicle and slow it from melting right away on a hot day.

So a big fat shout-out to Mr. Epperson, creator of the Epsicle, the Pop’s sicle, Popsicle. Yum!

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