1. ¿What’s Bueno? Freezer Pops!

    In a rare (but not unprecedented) show of bipartisanship that will not doom our country, this week

    ¡Es Muy Bueno!

    is also

    ¿What's Bueno? I'll Tell You!

    Yes, both 99¢ Only Store and its sworn enemy Dollar Tree have put aside their hate and contempt for one another to reach across the cluttered, messy aisle to one another in an effort to mutually offer you, the discount store consumer, not this week’s “What’s Bueno!” item, singular, but a panoply of “What’s Bueno!” items, plural!

    And what are they? Freezer pops!


    This couldn’t happen at a better time, either – we’re right smack in the middle of this summer’s first miserable heat wave here in the miserable Los Angeles area, so if you live around here, pal, you’re going to need ’em.

    Today’s freezer pop enthusiast has a much wider variety to choose from than when you and I were kids. Back then we had Fla-Vor-Ice and Otter Pops and, brother, that was it! That was it!

    And while they’re still available (as you’ll see), today, those parched of throat and desiccated of uvula can also reach for over a dozen other brands, for just a buck a box, including such delights as these here Kool Pops.


    Licensed by Kool-Aid owner Kraft, these artifically flavored freezer pops are made with Real Fruit Juice from concentrate, so it’s a snack you can feel good about, eating one after another after another after another. Oh, no one stops at one.


    They even make a tropical version, which I refused to try because like you, I hate banana-flavored anything. And yet, I like real bananas. Truly, I am an enigma.

    Here are our old friends Otter Pops, just like you remember them, complete with crudely-drawn mascots, who have been part of Otter Pops for much longer than crudely-drawn characters have been trendy.


    A $1.00 rebate on a box of Otter Pops that cost a dollar?! Astounding! Even more astounding is that there are people who will find it worth their time to cut out the UPC and the form from the box and fill that out, include a copy of their store receipt with price circled,  put that all in an envelope, and affix a 46¢ stamp to it and send it off to Otter Pops to get a check for a dollar in the mail in six to eight weeks.


    Also available are these 100% fruit juice Otter Pops. Despite the box warning me that they contained no high fructose corn syrup, I bought them anyway and they were quite refreshing.

    For years, Otter Pops had mail-in offers for merchandise on their box backs. Some time ago, I sent away for a Louie Bloo Raspberry beach towel. When it arrived, I was disappointed that it was far too small for a gangly manchild such as myself to actually lay out on at the municipal pool. Inexplicably, it was as though it was designed for a child. What the hell?!


    Here’s the international equivalent of our proud American freezer pops. They’re called Bolis Icesticks and they’re made in Mexico. The plastic they’re encased in is quite a bit thicker than any of the other pops. You don’t snip off the end with a pair of scissors, either: they’re segmented in two, and you snap them in the middle. The package notes that “BOLIS ICESTICKS are a convenient, inexpensive refreshment.” Inexpensive, sure. But I don’t know about convenient – you don’t need scissors to get ’em open, but snapping them in half leaves you with two separate sections and they can be messy.


    Tampico knows its customers!  The “number one selling citrus punch brand” in the US  (according to its website) chooses to package its freezer pops the same way they do it south of the border, down Mexico way, in those snappable tubes, like Bolis (above). Like you, I can’t imagine why!


    Sunny D Orange Citrus freezer pops.  All one flavor, gang. No purple stuff here.


    Wyler’s Authentic Italian Ices come in four flavors. To me, the only “authentic” Italian ice comes in a paper cup with a peel off lid and you eat it with a wooden spoon, and the only flavor is lemon.


    And here’s Slush Puppie Slush Bars. Some trivia for you, courtesy Wikipedia: [Slush Puppie’s] original owners, Will Radcliff and his sister Phyllis, came up with the name while sitting on their front porch in Cincinnati, Ohio. The unique spelling of “puppie” was added to bring attention to both the name and the product.  I think you’ll agree they succeeded.


    Made with 100% Apple Juice, these Mott’s Freezer Bars come in four delicious flavors – Apple, Apple Strawberry, Apple White Grape and Fruit Punch – which I think we can assume has a delicious apple undertone to it.


    Fla-Vor-Ice Fudge Pops are made with Real Hershey’s Cocoa. I like my fudgicles (or Fudgesicles, as they’re known east of the Allegheny) on a stick, dammit. When it comes to freezer pops, it’s advisable to stick with fruit flavors.


    …Eh, that said, there’s also these freeze & eat Soda Pops. They come in A&W Root Beer, Crush Strawberry, Dr. Pepper and Crush Grape flavors. Well, those are mostly fruit flavors. Fruit and root flavors. And Dr. Pepper.


    Sunkist has gotten into the act, too, with these so-called freezer “bars” as they call them – again, made with real fruit juice from concentrate and no high fructose corn syrup. This country runs on high fructose corn syrup – you better believe it, brother – but I reckon a little change of pace won’t kill us. Special thanks to eagle-eyed reader and 99¢ Only Store shopper Chris in the Sacramento area for sending this in. Your official I’m A Pal of Ted beach towel is in the mail. (Child size.)


    Hawaiian Punch Freezer Bars feature four extreme flavors but best of all, the box has Punchy snowboarding down a frosty Hawaiian mountain. Totally awesome! Today’s 3-D rendered Hawaiian Punch mascot is a character with attitude. He’s edgy; he’s in your face!


    These guys are your bargain basement freezer pops. Fun Pops are filled with inconsistent levels of colored fluid that seems to vary wildly from pop to pop, and come packaged in cheap a net bag. Yet you get twelve of these and they’re 2 ounces each (well, if they were all filled uniformly) which is more than most of the other varieties. So it seems to me you could do a lot worse than Fun Pops.


    According to the label, each bag “may or may not contain: Grape, Orange, Blue Punch, Pina Colada, Banana, Lemon-Lime, Peach, Watermelon, Cherry, Mango, Green Apple & Strawberry.” Still, I passed on these because with my luck, I’d have gotten a bag with like three disgusting banana pops and no peach.

    It’s not just me, right? There’s nothing worse than artificial banana flavoring, right?


    Mike and Ike: The candy you never buy is now available in freezer pop form that you might buy!


    Jolly Rancher has gotten into the act, too, and while they only offer two flavors, they do taste a lot like their hard candy counterparts.


    Angry Birds freezer bars feature tangy flavors matching the colors of the red bird, the yellow bird, a pig, and the blue bird. As a bonus, each box has an Angry Birds bookmark that kids can cut out and use – a nostalgic throwback to a time when kids still read books and weren’t spending their free time playing heavily-licensed games on their smartphones.

    All of these freezer pops are fine, I reckon, but now we’re down to my top two:


    These Snapple Sorbet bars come in colored sleeves, but the innards are white as the driven snow. They’re really good.


    But these lip-puckering sour WarHeads freezer pops are my hands-down favorite – and now yours too.

    Interestingly, nearly all of these varieties of freezer pops are manufactured or licensed by The Jel Sert Company (or “Big Freezer Pop” as consumer watchdogs know them, probably), the folks who started it all back in 1969 with Fla-Vor-Ice.


    And yes, Fla-Vor-Ice is among the brands available at the 99¢ Only Store and Dollar Tree.

    They’ve got a Tropical Flavors pack, too. But you’ll want to stay away from that.


    I think you’ll know why.

    Posted by on June 29, 2013, 5:27 AM.

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