Kym Klass Montgomery Advertiser
August, 18, 2016 Updated November, 29, 2016
It only takes one bite into a handmade Popsicle at Frios Gourmet Pops to realize the taste is everything it appears to be.
The black and blue (blackberry and blueberry) popsicle at Frios Gourmet Pop Shop in Prattville, Ala. on Monday August 15, 2016.
The fruit is home grown in Alabama. The milk-based products are organic. The strawberries are handpicked. The cheesecake pops? It's actual cheesecake in the middle that you're biting into with strawberry, raspberry and blueberry flavors to sink your teeth into.
Frios Gourmet Pops is a product developed in Gasden, and that has spread to 20 stores throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. A chef develops ideas, tests those ideas, and finds what best fits both the flavors and what people want – and also what meets the standards of being an organic product that provides people with a somewhat healthy alternative to some other frozen treats.
The Popsicles come one of two ways: creamy or fruity – with the fruity pops ranging from 60 calories to 80 calories, said Troy Stubbs, who owns the Prattville and Wetumpka Frios stores with his wife, Jenny Stubbs, and who plan to open a store in downtown Montgomery near the fountain in the spring.
"They're not loaded with a bunch of preservatives or artificial flavorings or colorings," Troy Stubbs said. "They are the real thing."
The creamy pops are milk-based, and the milk comes from Working Cows Dairy in Slocomb, an organic dairy farm. The fruit in the Popsicles is all sourced from Alabama farms.
"Obviously, there are some fruits that don't grow in Alabama, but we make sure they come through an Alabama farm before they come to us," Stubbs said. "We do not use any refined sugars. We use organic sugar cane as the sweetener. We have some products that are third-party ingredients. Like we have cereal pops, and we can't control what goes in to that third-party ingredient. However, everything else that we have control over, we keep it local and fresh.
"I'm grateful to be a vendor in Alabama, where I can say it's an Alabama-made product, because to me and to my family, that's a big deal. We want to support local businesses, local farmers and all of these different vendors that provide us the different ingredients for these Popsicles."
The "pops" in the store are made to order, with all pops made within the past seven to 10 days.
"When I order the pops, that's when they are made," Stubbs said. "They are not sitting on a shelf, waiting."
The only thing waiting are taste buds.
Stubbs calls the creamy pops "dessert on a stick. We're not making a hack attempt at tasting 'like' something. The banana pudding, for example, has slices of bananas and vanilla wafers in them. The lemon icebox and key lime pie, they both have a crust built in to the Popsicle. The most popular creamy pops is the key lime pie, followed closely by caramel sea salt and cookies and milk.
On the fruity side, the most popular is strawberry, with the lemonades – pink lemonade, blueberry lemonade and raspberry lemonade – a pretty close second.
"Obviously, this is our prime time," Stubbs said of business. "We're having a lot of success being at events and festivals. We'll continue to do events and festivals throughout the year. We also have a new program now called 'Frios Fridays' with a lot of the local schools. We now have 10 schools on board. And we provide a freezer for the school, and the school ... sells the Popsicle on Fridays for $3 per Popsicle, and then we donate 50 cents of the proceeds back to the school for each Popsicle."
With a tagline of "fresh frozen fun," the business keeps flavors in rotation according to season. With about 80 flavors, they carry between 15 flavors and 20 flavors at any time. As seasons progress, flavor options change. Some flavors available now won't be available in the fall or winter. They are already out of muscadine and it won't be back until next summer.
Watermelon pops might be available for another month, but then that will also be off the menu list until next summer.
"We have flavors that will come into the picture into the fall," Stubbs said. "So we'll have a lot of pumpkin flavors, we have pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin spiced lattes, and then when we get into the winter, we have sour green apple, we have eggnog, a frozen hot chocolate with marshmallows in it."
And in the spring, there will be items related to Mardi Gras. There is a black forest cake, Girl Scout cookie pops.
"We will be open year round," Stubbs said. "And we hope that some of our more novelty pops will get people to come into the store in the winter time."
Frozen seasonal sensations
Truck Stop Honey, made with local honey and Back Forty Beer (seasonal)
Classic Mojito (summer)
Mexican chocolate (all seasons)
Tiramisu (all seasons)
King Cake (seasonal)
Coffee and donuts (fall)
Russian Tea (fall/winter)
Red Hots with cinnamon and Cayenne-infused Blood Orange (seasonal)
Find Frios Gourmet Pops
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