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jun 15 2011

5 best new ice pops in the U.S.

Six goodies from North Carolina's Locopops. (Lissa Gotwals)

These revisionist takes on a classic summer treat will probably upset Popsicle purists. To which we say: Chill out! They may not look like the stuff of many a childhood brain freeze, but your mouth will love them all the same.

1 New York

Most new-wave ice-pop artisans acknowledge at least some debt to the paleta—a frozen fruit treat sometimes made with nuts, milk, and spices that gained popularity along Mexico's Pacific coast in the 1940s. Former pastry chef and Mexico City transplant Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina has a special connection to the confection: In fact, she's publishing a book of recipes (titled Paletas) this month. There's a store in the works, too, but for now, the best place to get ahold of her avocado, hibiscus, or cajeta (caramelized goat's milk) pops is her stall at the Hester Street Fair. Hester St. at Essex St., lanewyorkina.com, from $2.

2 Atlanta

Launching a cold-sweets business in a city nicknamed Hotlanta? Now that should be a no-brainer. Mining Southern culinary touchstones for his inspiration, Steven Carse has more than earned his King of Pops moniker—and his loyal following, who visit his cart in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood (a.k.a. Atlanta's burgeoning street-food center) weekdays from 3 to 8 p.m. and weekends from 12 to 8 p.m. His stick shtick? Frosty takes on Georgia peaches, Arnold Palmers (sweet tea and lemonade), and banana pudding—complete with frozen hunks of Nilla Wafers. 1079 North Ave., kingofpops.net, $2.50.

3 New Orleans

It takes something truly refreshing to lure the French Quarter crowds away from Bourbon Street's slushy-dispensing daiquiri stands. At Meltdown, Michelle Weaver creates sophisticated botanical combinations—pineapple and cilantro, saffron and rose water, blackberry and sage—that are nevertheless appealing to (and healthy for) ice pop fanatics of all ages. The shop's decor also hits a wholesome note—how very un-Big Easy!—with white paper lanterns, cheery green walls, and a chalkboard in the front window listing each day's specials. 508 Dumaine St., $3.

4 Raleigh, N.C.

Summer Bicknell did not open her ice-pop business on a whim. In 2004, she traveled 2,000 miles to Tlazazalca, Mexico, for an intensive, three-month paleta-making apprenticeship. She hasn't stopped moving since. In 2005, Bicknell opened the first Locopops in a tiny space near the Duke campus and has since expanded to Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Her flavors cover plenty of ground, too—crowd-pleasers like chocolate brownie share the stage with wilder styles that incorporate black truffle, olive oil, and even bacon. 1908 Hillsborough St., locopops.org, from $2.

5 Los Angeles

Personal chef Michelle Sallah can take the heat, but she still likes to get out of the kitchen once in a while. So last summer, Sallah and her partner John Cassidy started L.A.'s mobile Popcycle Treats as a weekend project. With the help of a custom-built freezer bike, the pair pedal their wares through Silverlake's farmers market each Saturday and the Holly-wood farmers market on Sundays. They're clever locations in a way, since the ingredients for their next batch of salty cucumber-lime or coffee-cardamom coolers are always just a farm stall away. Twitter @popcycle treats for locations and flavors, $3.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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