South Lake Tahoe residents Adrienne Bush and Thomas Daly admit to having a problem with popsicles, but instead of trying to find a 12-step program to cure popsicle addiction, the couple decided to embrace it. Thus, Tahoe Pops was born.
Perched under an awning on a smoldering hot summer day at the Ski Run Marina, I am eating a creamy delicious Java Chip pop that is rich, chocolatey and smooth. It seems like Daly and Bush are trying to hold back from going back over to The Ice Shack and grabbing their own, but having all-you-can-eat access to housemade popsicles is one reason why they started the business.
Bush started selling Hawaiian-style shaved ice on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe in 2011 and has always been committed to using only organic, natural, gluten-free, chemical-free flavors and syrups to match the powdered snow reminiscent of the snowballs that she ate growing up in Baltimore.
After Bush started the shaved ice company and met Daly, they found themselves buying boxes and boxes of popsicles together. It was then that they realized they had a popsicle problem — and that they could create better popsicles with more natural, healthy ingredients. They attended a Popsicle Fancying class in Miami and learned how to use a new popsicle machine that had just come on the market. The couple returned to Tahoe and started experimenting.
“We use Tahoe water as our main ingredient and try to source as locally as possible,” Bush says.
They played with flavors and ingredients, asking for feedback from friends and tweaking recipes. The couple started going to the local farmers’ markets and getting new ideas for popsicles to match what fruits were in season.
“Straight from farm to stick,” Daly says, also mentioning that they just got a fresh batch of strawberries in for their bestselling popsicle flavor.
“I notice that fresh fruit really changes the flavor. When you have a better fruit, then you tend to use less sugar to make the pops. It brings out more natural flavors,” Bush says.
“We usually set up in the kids and family camping zones,” Bush says. “The toasted coconut was popular at the yoga tent [at Lightning In A Bottle],” says Bush.
Tahoe Pops also opened in a 500-square-foot flagship location at 2580 Lake Tahoe Blvd. and made enough popsicles to get them through the summer season; they can produce 112 popsicles in half an hour. They are now ready to expand. While Tahoe has a short and sweet summer season, Bush and Daly would love to expand distribution into more year-round popsicle-eating markets such as Grass Valley.
“Selling them takes care of our popsicle habit. All of the money we would’ve spent on popsicles goes straight back into the business,” Daly says. “We’ve made about 15 to 20 different kinds of popsicles, but have kept about half of them for ourselves. We’ve been together for six years and we’ve always had a popsicle problem. We would always go through withdrawals in winter, so we wanted to make it so that we had popsicles all the time.”
“We always have the staples, but we make time to try new flavors and use what’s in season,” Bush says. “I think people care about what they’re eating and we want to give them something they feel good about.” | tahoepops.com