Ah, childhood popsicles: plastic tubes and rainbow-colored tongues. Nowadays, those who steer clear of high-fructose corn syrup have endless options, but it comes at a price. An eight-pack of organic popsicles may cost well over ten dollars, though the recipes are basic and the boxes are lightweight; all packaging, no product.

When King of Pops opened in Richmond, I appreciated  their ingenuity. Their pineapple habanero and sweet tea with lemonade were the answer to those humid summer days. But people who love to cook are naturally curious about flavor combinations. and it wasn't long before I fell down the rabbit hole!

What you'll need: 

1) Groovy Pop Molds - They'e reusable, saving both your bank account and the local landfill. 

2) A bottle of homemade simple syrup. Make a nice pot of it. It's great to have on-hand during the summer anyway, for iced coffee, lemonade and iced tea. But having this already-dissolved sugar is perfect for sweetening up pop recipes too!

3) Imagination. I encourage you to play with your own combinations. You can color layer your pops, make a swirl design, or if the occasion calls for it, add a splash of vodka or rum. How can you tell if the finished product will be good? Love the taste before you freeze it.

4) Be stocked. Ripe bananas make everything creamier. Coconut milk is a great dairy-free alternative to cream. Hot peppers are heaven in fruity popsicles. So is basil. Lemonade, peanut butter, balsamic vinegar, hot cocoa, caramel topping, whole blueberries and coffee all have a place in the endless creations you'll make. 

My favorite fruit is watermelon, and I'm partial to watermelon mint pops. I fill a blender with frozen watermelon cubes, a fistful of freshly-ground mint from the yard, a 1/4 cup of simple syrup and top it off with lime seltzer water (enough to help it blend). Once poured and frozen into molds, it's summer on a stick.

I also love the classic strawberries and cream. You can even use coconut milk to make it dairy-free and extra creamy! Just blend 5 cups of ripe strawberries, a can of coconut milk, 1/4 cup of simple syrup (or maple), et voila!

Now go put the POP in your popsicle recipe, and be sure to share your creations with us!

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