Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bike Life: Nice Pops

Melissa & Melanie the "popcyclists"
While riding along 10th Avenue, I kept seeing chalked signs on the road: little pictures of popsicles or things like, "Frozen treats ahead!" & "Nice Pops $3", but I never saw anyone selling them. Then Oliver stopped by Nice Pops & bought one on his way home from work. When I saw a photo of them on Facebook, posted by Shift Urban Delivery Co-op, I realized that I needed to track these gals down for an interview for Bike Life.

Nice Pops is the brainchild of Melissa Hogg, a former wildlife biologist, & Melanie Camman, a recent Emily Carr Industrial Design grad. Melissa read about people selling artisanal ice pop creations in Brooklyn, then came across someone doing it in Canmore & thought she needed to try it here in Vancouver. Though Melissa & Melanie had talked about starting this venture together for a while, Melissa jumped into it while Melanie was on tour with her band in Europe, trusting her friend would be eager to work on it once she got home. Melanie was on board, telling people she was going to work as a "pop cyclist" for the summer in Vancouver.

Just $3 gets you a little bit of summer on a stick
To get the pops around, they sourced an old frame & built it up into a serviceable bike at Pedal Depot. Melissa's partner Andrew, also an industrial designer, came up with a plan to repurpose a dog trailer. With tools borrowed from the Vancouver Tool Library, they created the simple, wood-clad cooler that Melissa & Melanie now tow behind the bike.

Melissa & Melanie are both confirmed cyclists, regularly commuting to work on their bikes (though Melanie does like taking the bus so she can knit en route). But it wasn't only for the love of biking that they decided to run the retail end of the business this way. They wanted to offer their yummy home-made frozen fruit pops specifically in East side parks where there's no concession. Having the Nice Pops cooler in a bike trailer means they can access more places than they could with something like an ice cream truck. Finances also factored into the decision: as Nice Pops is in its inaugural year, their goal was to keep costs low.

Leo Duncan enjoying a roasted peach Nice Pop
That said, the Nice Pops themselves are not your garden variety cheapo popsicle. They're made from ripe local fruit & feature delicious combinations like lime, cucumber & chili; strawberry & balsamic vinegar; roasted peach; apricot & salted caramel. The latter wasn't available the day I tried my first Nice Pops, but Leo Duncan tells me it's his favourite flavour. He's one of a growing number of regulars who seek out Nice Pops & buy their treats, sometimes by the armload. For the repeat customers, Melissa & Melanie offer a punch card so you can soon get one free. There are generally four or five flavours available, varying week to week depending on what fruit is in season. I was impressed that even the packaging is well thought out & totally biodegradable: the clear wrapper is easily compostable at home & the wooden stick can be put into the city green waste bins to be composted.

Friday's forecast is for 26c & sunny--perfect weather for a frosty treat! Look for Nice Pops tomorrow (Friday, September 7) on the bike route next to South China Creek Park (Clark & 10th Avenue)--they'll be there from 4-7pm. You can also follow Nice Pops on Twitter & Facebook to find out where they'll be next.

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