A Taste of Summer: Pop Wonder Pedals Ice Pops Made with Local Produce 

It’s a classic image come summertime: small children with big grins and juice-stained cheeks, clutching Popsicles in sticky fists against a backdrop of grass and pool toys. Snapshots like that never fail to make adults want to be kids again—and get them craving ice pops, which scratch the same nostalgic itch. Luckily for Boise’s kids-at-heart, local entrepreneur Katie Bertram is now on the scene with her fledgling business Pop Wonder, which started selling handcrafted artisan pops from a mobile freezer at downtown events like the Boise Farmers Market and Alive After Five this month.

Bertram got the idea from her “farm and business mentor,” Earthly Delights Farm Owner Casey O'Leary, who was Bertram’s employer for the last few summers. O’Leary also founded the regional seed-share Snake River Seed Cooperative and, to hear Bertram tell it, is a continual fount of business plans.

click to enlarge Bertram sold cucumber-violet pops at Alive After Five on June 13. - KATIE BERTRAM
  • Katie Bertram
  • Bertram sold cucumber-violet pops at Alive After Five on June 13.
“She has a lot of ideas of how to do a lot of different things in the community, and one of the ideas she had for a business was Popsicles made from local produce, and making unique flavors,” Bertram said, recalling a conversation she once had with O’Leary on the farm. “... She was on Craigslist one day and saw this bike cart that had a big cooler on the front, and everything just clicked together from there.”

Though O’Leary didn’t have time to run the business herself, she gave Bertram her blessing and a $4,000 start-up loan, which included the Craigslist freezer/bike combo. Bertram immediately began experimenting, making ice pops by hand using silicone molds at the Boise Bistro Market, where she has after-hours access to facilities.

Her flavors are quirky, more geared to adults than children. She offers four or five at a time, and at Alive After Five on June 13 she had beet-coconut, cucumber-ginger-lime and cucumber-violet pops for sale, among others. She sells an average of 130 pops at each downtown event—almost exactly a full batch, and just over a third of what her mobile freezer can hold.

“This type of business is kind of a trend in bigger cities right now, and there’s a lot of information out there,” Bertram said. “... I researched Popsicle recipes and there are a couple of Popsicle cookbooks I have where people have already compiled a lot of really interesting ideas. But the goal is to just use something that’s in season, and what I’ve been doing is complimenting it with an herb or a spice that pairs nicely.”

click to enlarge Pop Wonder's flavors include cucumber-violet and classic strawberry. - KATIE BERTRAM
  • Katie Bertram
  • Pop Wonder's flavors include cucumber-violet and classic strawberry.
The way Bertram sources her ingredients is as unique as her menu: hyper-locally, and largely by partnering with her fellow Boise Farmers Market vendors. Her cucumbers come from H & H Farms, Fiddler’s Green Farm provides her beets and she picks the berries for her strawberry pops by hand at Richardson Family Farm in Emmett.

Her eco-friendly commitment goes beyond local sourcing, too. The pops are sweetened with what she described as “organic, fair trade, vegan cane sugar” and swaddled in biodegradable, compostable wrappers made from polylactic acid, an industrial resin derived from corn.

“I have my eye on some orchards when things start coming out over there,” she said, brainstorming late-summer flavors. “I’m going to get some herbs from Purple Sage [Farms], and I want to work with a lot of farmers at the market. A lot of them do vegetables, so that’s tricky—that was the birth of that beet pop, and that one’s interesting. It would be fun to try one with carrot or something, just to support somebody else.”

Right now, Pop Wonder’s treats sell for $3 each, but Bertram said she’d break that mold for “extra special” flavors like a limited-time pop made from fresh-picked huckleberries, which can be pricey and difficult to source.

For now, her only concrete plan is to continue selling ice pops as long as the weather stays warm, maybe even as late as October. She's already looking forward to spiced fall pops made with local apples and pumpkins.
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