A few days ago I was driving near JJ’s Red Hots on East Boulevard and realized I was sticking to my seat – it was 87 degrees out and I was wearing a sweater and pants. I remembered that JJ’s had a freezer full of King of Pops popsicles.
Instantaneous mouth watering. Instantaneous left hand turn into the parking lot.
King of Pops is the city’s tastiest popsicles. As the warm seasons return, you’ll catch their rainbow umbrella food carts around town.
I tend to struggle between sweet or savory, so for research purposes, I got both: Chocolate Sea Salt (the #1 best seller) and Lemonade Basil. Like you may be doing right now, as soon as I paid, I questioned my Lemonade Basil decision. I couldn’t put it down.
That’s what King of Pops does best: it mixes crazy combinations and somehow makes them addicting.
How it started
Long story short, three Carse brothers fell in love with paletas (Latin American ice pops) during their travels to Central America. Steven, the youngest brother, decided to follow his dreams after a corporate layoff. Soon, his brother Nick decided to join the team, and with the help of family and friends, they opened their first cart in Atlanta.
They have since expanded to Charleston, Richmond, and Charlotte, with one in Greenville, SC opening this month. Brandon DeCurtins, Chief Poperating Officer, oversees the frozen concoctions in Charlotte.
In addition to year-round flavors such as cookies and cream, key lime pie and sugar cookie, King of Pops is adding these new ones this year:
@KingofPopsCLT Just had your unbelievably dope key lime pie pop – had chunks of crust and everything. My day is now better.
— Cole Kettler (@ColeKettler) April 9, 2015
– Banana Caramel
– Coconut Banana Orange
– Strawberry Lemonade
They will also be adding these seasonal flavors:
– Fresh Peach (Summer)
– Pumpkin Pie (Fall)
– White Chocolate Peppermint (Winter)
– Blood Orange (Next Spring)
– The magic happens in NoDa, in a warehouse that has been converted into a testing and production kitchen.
– They use inspiration from anywhere they can find it, including fancy cocktails, like the one that inspired Blackberry Mojito.
– They buy the best ingredients that they can, including organic and local from the farmers market.
– They make the popsicles in liquid form first, allowing them to play around with the flavors before freezing. This usually works, except for the time they made Strawberry Pink Peppercorn.
– They don’t just use your average freezer. The popsicle machine is from Argentina while the popsicle molds are from Brazil. The machine freezes them a lot faster and gives better consistency and a fresher taste. #nofreezerburn
Where to find them
– Retail stores: The Common Market and Healthy Home Market. Soon to be at Whole Foods and Earth Fare.
– Parties: Birthdays, weddings, and corporate events. Party crashing optional.
*Admission: I went back the next day to take more pictures. I tried Raspberry Lime and Arnold Palmer, for additional research. Solid choices.
Photos: Robert Lahser/Charlotte Observer and King of Pops
Jennifer Hutson is a native Charlottean with a passion for good food and unique libations, to be enjoyed on a porch, or, when lucky, consumed while traveling. Follow her at teaspoonofcharlotte.com.