My dad has no tolerance for sugar. We know he’s not
diabetic, but even a sip of Gingerale has been known to make him sleepy. Sweets
hardly tempt him anymore, but one particularly unbearable summer in Alabama, he
reached for a box of sugar-free popsicles. I joked that the only real
ingredient in those treats was water, but they were cold, and as far as we
knew, harmless. For a while he snacked on those “cherry,” “orange,” and “grape”
pops frequently, sometimes finishing a box of eight in a weekend.
Then the weird dreams started. He didn’t get into specifics
with me over the phone, but used “hallucinatory” more than once. We didn’t make
the connection for weeks. Was it stress? Indigestion? Hypnosis? My dad, being
the practical scientist that he is, looked at the ingredient label for his only
indulgence and came up with a theory. Two weeks without the flavored chemicals
in his system, and the dreams stopped entirely.
Being lactose intolerant myself (another sugar-phobic
quality inherited from my dad) I had my own love-hate relationship with
popsicles. When the ice cream truck came through our neighborhood, my friends
dripped chocolate dipped cones and cookie ice cream sandwiches down their chins
while I sucked on my 25 cent cherry popsicle. The ice cream man had to dig
around in his freezer to find an old stash—most had leached all their flavor and
stuck to my tongue when I finally took a bite.
But times have changed. An ice pop made with fresh, natural
fruit is, to me, the most refreshing way to cool off on a hot summer day. The
combinations are endless, and adding an unexpected herb or spice really
amplifies the fruit and excites the palette (much like a cocktail). How about
peach and ginger? Raspberry and basil? Pomegranate and lime? A fresh ice pop is
a canvas for creativity, not to mention easy to make, pretty to look at, and
healthier than the ice cream truck (or chemically enhanced) alternatives.