Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Local Pops

Food and Wine, June 2007


Carolina Popsicle Star

Summer Bicknell, owner of Durham, North Carolina’s wildly popular Mexican popsicle stand Locopops, gets many of her ingredients—rosemary, jalapeños, figs—from an organic urban garden tended by inner-city teens. "We bring pops out to the kids, because a lot of times they’ve never tasted what they’ve grown," says Bicknell. The Tennessee native didn’t grow up with paletas (Mexican popsicles); instead, she sampled one for the first time as an adult in Nashville when she was working in information technology. That taste set Bicknell on a new path. She found a paleta-making mentor in the Mexican town of Tlazazalca and spent three months following her through markets, learning how to choose fruit and balance flavors. Bicknell opened Locopops in a small storefront in June 2005, selling paletas in both traditional Mexican flavors, such as mango-chile and tamarind, and quirky ones like honeydew-lavender and chocolate-rosemary. Earlier this year, she and business partner Connie Semans opened a shop in Chapel Hill, and they’re planning a third for downtown Durham. Since frozen desserts don’t usually do well in cold weather, Bicknell tried to close Locopops in the winter, but fans protested; now the shops are open year-round (2600 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, and 431 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill; 919-286-3500). —Amanda McClements