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July, 2011

Give Pops a Chance

After months of chopping fruit, honing recipes, and navigating the wild world of food licenses, we’re ready to seriously DO this thing. Behold, our Kickstarter campaign–in which we ask you, our community, to lend us your support if you think that Minnesota would be a better place with gourmet, farm-fresh ice pops. So, whaddya say? We think we can make it happen! Click on the image to learn more…

 

When Lightning Strikes: First Day at the Market

Post-thunderstorm.

Remember how two days ago I was waxing sentimental about how “success” on our first market day was assured, since I had decided to define success as simply having introduced our ice pops to the world? Well let’s just say I was NOT thinking along those lines when we pulled in, late (despite the 5am wakeup), to Fulton Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning, under an enormous thundercloud that would soon sweep up our brand new market tent and relocate it, breaking several of its very affordable parts along the way. Nor was I pondering that very endearing definition of success when 2 hours later, we were still fighting wind and rain, but then our outlet lost electricity and a bunch of our lovingly crafted, and carefully packed, pops became bags of “juice.” No, right then I was trying to come up with a NON-FROZEN item to make and sell to the world.

 

Life is good.

 

And yet. Yesterday was an absolutely incredible day. It was exhausting, exhilarating, instructive. The sun, eventually, came out, and with it came heat and hungry farmers’ market customers with adorable kids who would soon have blueberry mustaches courtesy of 10,000 Licks. Seriously, there were so many adorable little people at the market yesterday, and the joy we got from seeing them hold those pops in their little fists, licking them adoringly while their parents stole bites– there simply is no word.

 

There’s no word either for how ridiculously cool it was to hang out with these stylish folks for a couple of hours (albeit after some car trouble on our way across town), watching so many vintage-loving ladies’ eyebrows go up at the thought of Watermelon and Spearmint cleverly combined.

 

But more than anything, yesterday was about the learning, and we came away from it with no fewer than 8 good lessons for “next time”:

 

1. Bring not just two, but all four legs of your display table.

 

2. Sandbags aren’t just for looks.

 

3. If Foxy Falafel will continue to accept ice pops in exchange for awesome Beet and Curry Falafel, then you must continue making ice pops forever.

 

Notice the conspicuous lack of tent, and Sarah wearing our sign as a necklace so it won't blow away.

4. Ditto on Mango Sticky Rice from Gai Gai Thai.

 

5. Crank up the basil in the Strawberry Basil pops.

 

6. Pack pops in freezer many hours before unplugging freezer to travel across town. Otherwise, the Heat Gods will laugh wickedly and descend.

 

7. Bring more napkins. Ice pop eaters love the napkins.

 

8. Give pops cute names like Bluegrass (Blueberry-Lemongrass). Folks are lovin’ the names.

 

And probably plenty more that I’ve yet to process.

Go, Ice Pops, Go!

I think I get it now, how parents must feel, sending a kid off to school for the first time. Waving to the bus… a single tear…

 

Okay, that’s not true. I don’t get that yet at all. But I do feel sentimental, and so excited, today at the prospect of introducing our lovably handcrafted ice pops into the world tomorrow. Four months ago, 10,000 Licks was still just an idea, its execution doubtful, our test pops inedible, and the idea of actually cranking out 160 of these mythical perfect farm-fresh ice pops a strange fiction. And now, after so many hours chopping cantaloupe, countless blueberry stains, nightmares of getting stuck in traffic with ice pops melting in the trunk, we’re ready to have some folks actually try these suckers. How, exactly, did that happen? And why?

 

When CBS Local interviewed Sarah and me a few days ago (we’ll link to that when it’s live, don’t ya worry), the reporter asked why we’ve stuck with this idea–what’s made us go from scheming to actually maybe-sort-of pulling this off. And while we came up with some thoughtful responses, privately I’m still not sure of the answer. Because it’s been so much fun, I guess. Because it’s been the greatest adventure yet. Because once we had the name for this crazy venture, there was no turning back. Or maybe it was the LLC that made it official? Or the license from the city? Hard to pinpoint when exactly the, uh, birth, took place.

 

A friend asked me yesterday how I’ll define “success” at the farmers’ market this weekend. I told him I’d be happy if 1) Our pops don’t melt (until they’re being eaten) and 2) We sell out. That would be amazing! But in truth I’d settle for something simpler. Success, in all honesty, is the fact that we’re going to be there at all. It’s the fact that we’ve made something, something we believe in and love (and consume in large quantities) and that we’re going to introduce it to the world. It’s a risk, for sure. And how often do you get the opportunity to take one of those?

 

Have a great day at school, little pops.

The Bright Side of Bureacracy

For a couple of gals who just want to make and sell their delicious ice pops to people who want to eat them, there have been a remarkable number of road blocks to starting an ice pop biz here in the Twin Cities. Want to sell something frozen? Gotta use mechanical refrigeration (no dry ice). Want to hand out samples? Better have a hand washing station complete with soap, paper towels, and waste bucket. Want to wrap your pops in wax paper before you hand them to people? Better list the ingredients and the net weight and your address. And don’t even think about making your pops at home. That’s disgusting! It better be in a commercial kitchen, with NSF-certified equipment, and be sure to wear surgical gloves that you dispose of after every step. Whew. It’s enough to make this gal sigh. Deeply.

 

But this post isn’t about how frustrating bureaucracy can be, because in actuality, that hasn’t been my experience. Sure, there have been lots of hoops to jump through, but really, the City of Minneapolis has been remarkably supportive and helpful. Our farmers’ market inspector, Katie Lampe, has responded to at least a half dozen phone calls from me, inquiring about this or that rule that I didn’t fully understand or hadn’t thought through. She even helped me find an ice cream cart manufacturer. And ditto for the State of Minnesota health folks–who helped explain why the City of Minneapolis has its own health department (confusing!)– as well as our St. Paul commercial kitchen inspector, and Leanne Selander in the licensing department in Minneapolis. It’s as if everyone is in agreement that yeah, there are a lot of hoops– so let’s try to figure out how to get you through them as quickly and smoothly as possible. I am so very grateful.

 

Which is all to say that we just received our license to sell at farmers’ markets this year, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. We’re legitimate now– I mean, really, we are, and it’s been a collaborative process. So while the talk of the town right now is the sad fact that politicians in Minnesota have been so unable (unwilling?) to compromise that the entire state had to shut down for three weeks, I’m actually feeling a little bit fuzzy about bureaucracy today. Sometimes, I guess, it works.