So this post is going to get crazy, fast. Let me explain. All summer I’ve been posting entries with a summer-related theme. From the beginning, freeze pops were on my list to review. I thought I’d pick up a pack of Fla-Vor-Ices, freeze ’em, eat ’em, and reminisce. I had it in the bag.
Then I thought, no–it should be bigger. More than a post. A celebration of freeze pops. I always wanted to try some of those niche-brands of freeze pop. Maybe I’d pick up a box or two at the pharmacy.
But I kept thinking about it. I wanted more. What about those depressing generic freeze pops that come in bulk-size sacks? What do they taste like? And what about the legendary freeze pops of my youth, Otter Pops? Could they still be found on store shelves?
I went on a mission, not sure what I would come home with. To Walgreen’s! To Rite Aid! To Shoppers Food! To The Bad Wal-Mart Where They Only Ever Have One Lane Open But I Don’t Feel Like Driving To The Good Wal-mart!
What happened next was a blur. I made rash decisions. I came to my senses in the car, but it was too late; I had bought six different cases. (Honey, I used the joint-account, so they’re your freeze pops, too! ARE YOU EXCITED?)
I’ve gone mad and filled my freezer with 182 freeze pops! I am living out the wildest dreams of my eight-year-old self.
We didn’t have any real food in there, anyway. I had to shove some bag of frozen vegetables in the back corner. I cranked the freezing temperature up to EIGHT to start freezing the bastards.
Pay no attention to what appears to be a large quantity of liquor.
Then I really began thinking. If I was truly going to review the freeze pops–I mean, truly present the sort of hard-hitting journalism that you’ve come to expect from The Surfing Pizza–I was going to have to review every single flavor contained within the cases. After all, a Hawaiian Punch Berry Blue Typhoon would not be the same as an Otter Pop Louie Bloo-Berry.
I did the math, which meant eating approximately twenty-nine different flavors of red and green and purple and blue.
Now, the post is in no way comprehensive–there are scores of brands of freeze pops out there, and I only have six. This will therefore be a fleeting overview, but not an inadequate one. And besides, I may lose all of my teeth doing this, thanks to the sheer volume of corn syrup I’m about to consume.
Let’s have a look first at the Fla-Vor-Ice.
Fla-Vor-Ice are the Crayola crayons of freeze pops. Any other crayon is crap. The colors are not as vivid, the feel of the crayon not as sturdy. Same with Fla-Vor-Ice versus other freeze pops. Others are melty, sticky messes, with dull colors and weak flavors.
I could never pronounce Fla-Vor-Ice as a kid. It was a strangely hyphenated, intimidating thing. Perhaps those hyphens meant long pauses, or maybe it was Germanic. I just called them freeze pops. In other countries, freeze pops are known as ice pops, freezies, and ice lollies.
And then there’s the flavors.
Green – Green has always been my favorite Fla-Vor-Ice. It reminds me of fighting. Ninja Turtles, toy soldiers, and light sabers. Green makes me feel bad ass. The flavor has a nice tang to it.
Blue – A backup favorite, if only because blue was my childhood favorite color. I like the sweetness of blue.
And I still remember the heady days of the blue revolution.
Back in the 1980s, the color blue was a sort of revolution. Kool Aid, M&Ms, freeze pops, snowball stands, and brands of bubblegum all breathlessly introduced blue flavors to their lineups. This was not just another new flavor. It was BLUE. Children across the land staggered toward the light en masse, rubbing their eyes, realizing they could actually consume blue foods.
We take blue for granted now, but back then, it was an awakening. I still remember the first time I saw a pitcher of Berry Blue Kool Aid on the patio table at Carl Winter’s ninth-birthday party. But blue flavor was bigger than that. It was bigger than all of us. Blue made the nightly news.
There were panicked reports that blue-tongued children were so wild for blue Kool-Aid that they were mistakenly guzzling jugs of anti-freeze. Hysteria spread! Packets of Berry Blue were feverishly pulled from the shelves! But we children bandied together. Underneath the slide at the park. On the blacktops at recess. On the hill tops, before we raced down.
At first, we whispered, but our whispers soon became roars. We protested. You won’t take our blue away! What do we want? BLUE. When do we want it? NOW.
If the preceding sentences were senseless babble, I’ll just say this: it was the 1980s. And if it did make sense to you, it’s because you were there, comrade.
Red – Oh, red. So dependable and trustworthy. I could never really get into the fake cherry flavor, but I could appreciate a strong color.
Pink – The weirdo in the bunch. I disliked the color, but secretly loved its mystery flavor, whatever it was supposed to be. What is it supposed to be, anyway? I still go for a pink every now and then, and its sweet, tingly flavor.
Orange – Another old reliable. The most boring, but perfectly serviceable.
Grape – This one feels like a specialty flavor. Like the kids who claimed it as their favorite were always a little weird, and they had specialties, like identifying gemstones or playing with microscopes. Little scientists who liked the Donatello color best of all. Red and green were the brutish colors; orange and pink were the deer-eyed little girl colors; purple was the geek color. And blue was for us all.
Overall Fla-Vor-Ice Grade: Solid. As always. A+++
Next, I have a box of Hawaiian Punch freeze pops.
Hawaiian Punch. If only we could have had it on tap in the house. Naturally, I loved the mascot, Punchy. I knew nothing of Hawaiians beyond the episode of Full House where the Tanners were unsuspectingly kidnapped by native midgets and then taken to a Beach Boys concert. Hawaii was a weird place.
The case of freeze pops is rather small, containing only eight pops and four flavors. But they do pack a nice “punch” at a whopping two ounces per bar.
Fruity Juicy Red – This one was refreshing, appropriately “punchy.” Tastes just like the juice. Ice cold and lovely. My teeth feel red.
Orange Ocean – Based on the name, I wanted this to whoosh with orange flavor, something my tongue could hang ten on. But instead, it just tastes like orange. Orange always tastes like just orange.
Green Berry Rush – Apple-juicy and really nice. Loves it.
Berry Blue Typhoon – Like the orange, I expected a whoosh–a storm of flavor. Instead, it was bland blue flavor. This is not what we fought the revolution for. Where’s the typhoon?
Overall Box Grade: A-. The red and green flavors make a great showing. Orange is dependable at least. The blue seemed bland, but it could have possibly been my tongue numbing.
Another quirky brand I picked up was a box of Warhead freeze pops.
Blue was not the only revolution in the 1980s. There was also a Sour Period in which all candies and gums introduced extreme sour flavors. It’s good to see Warheads is still around as a brand.
The Warheads are another small box containing only ten pops, each clocking in at a pithy one ounce, but boy, do they do pack a lot of flavor.
Watermelon – Burns a little. Okay, I’m a wimp, and it burns a lot. Classic Warhead flavor. More burn than melon, but the melon is great, also. Based on this pop, I’m ready to grade the entire box an A.
Blue Raspberry– Warheady with a bitter aftertaste. Not a lot of raspberry taste–just a lot of sour.
Which reminds me, a footnote in the history of blue: Blue Raspberry. When blue came out, the most obvious flavor correlation was berry, like blue berries. At some point though, the raspberry began to take over, as though blue raspberry was somehow edgier.
Black Cherry – This is the first pop I officially hate in my taste-testing. I absolutely hate the flavor of black cherry, and to make things worse, this one is floral-y. It tastes like the flowers in a funeral home. Add in the sour punch of malic acid, and this pop takes my hatred of black cherry to a new level.
Green Apple – This one suffers from the same problem as the blue–not a lot of flavor beyond the sourness. I cannot detect the apple flavor at all. Still, the sour is enjoyable.
Overall Grade: B++. I loved the Watermelon. Green and Blue, while pleasantly sour, have no distinct flavor. Black Cherry sucks big time.
Next up, a Depressing Big Ass Generic Bag of “Fun Pops.”
When I was kid, I received nothing but the best when it came to consumer goods. I got Brand Name. Coca-cola, Crayola, Lucky Charms, Twinkies, and Nike. I guess I was spoiled in this regard, because I’ve heard HORROR stories about the breakfast table with “Marshmallow Maties” or “Cinnamon Toasters.” And I want to say I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for your unfortunate childhood.
The girlfriend had a sad, off-brand childhood. She never had Fla-Vor-Ice as a kid, and she never heard of Otter Pops until I brought them home yesterday.
Instead, she had these:
DEPRESSING. And yet somehow, it depresses me further. Her parents didn’t even buy her freeze pops–no, she delves into a story about how she befriended a church-going neighbor girl because they always had freeze pops. I can totally see the girlfriend sitting under a tree with the church girl, listening to Bible stories, just to get free freeze pop.
The sack of pops comes with thirty-six bars, delivering a colossal 2.5 ounces of frozen corn syrup.
They may be the best bargain, quantity-wise, but they sacrifice some quality. Look at this.
A bent-up, rickety-looking pop. WHAT FLAVOR IS THAT? CLEAR?
Pina Colada – The clear flavor is actually Pina Colada, and it’s exactly like Pina Colada. Fascinating. Pina Colada is one of those flavors that miraculously always tastes exactly the same, no matter the medium. I don’t love it though. It’s a thick flavor and very syrupy.
Grape – This tastes like baby diaper. The girlfriend liked it. She would.
Blue – Ack! Cleaning fluid blue! I’m pretty sure I could wipe the windows with this.
Orange – As always is orange. Old faithful, orange is.
Green – Exactly like Fla-Vor-Ice, surprisingly. Can’t complain.
Banana – I’m shocked. This one is great. I love fake banana flavor. A lot of people hate it, but banana is my first choice always, whether it be ice cream, pudding, Laffy Taffy, or Runts.
At this point, my fingers are very sticky, and I’ve eaten twenty freeze pops. I’m feeling odd. I think I could possibly hallucinate things.
Red – Ummm. Finding it difficult to concentrate. I think it tasted red.
Overall Box Grade: D for DEPRESSING.
I’ve got to keep going. Next is Slush Puppie.
Slush Puppies weigh in at twelve bars and two ounces each. They have a dog with a little snow hat and “S” sweater. Don’t you just love him? I do.
Slush Puppies are the oddball of the group. They are actually made of gelatin instead of ice. It gives them a very different texture, a frozen goopy gel that slides icily down the throat. Yum.
Red – After eating all that ice, the frozen gel is surprising and welcome. I don’t love the red flavor, which is a tad cough syrupy, but the flavor and texture are novel enough to my tongue.
Blue – The blue is very sweet, and therefore very refreshing. It makes me feel like the doggie on the box. I am the Slush Puppie. Goo goo ga joob.
Thank God there are only two flavors in this box.
Overall Box Grade – Despite being deathly sick of freeze pops right now, I’m rating this box a B- for the icy goop, and an A+ for the dog.
Now, these next ones are legendary. Otter Pops.
Tracking down a box of Otter Pops was my number one priority for this post. When I finally encountered them in the summer section of the pharmacy, it no longer mattered to me that my only choice was to purchase a gigantic case of one hundred pops that would barely fit in the freezer. One hundred! I may still have them by Halloween, and could potentially give them to trick-or-treaters.
Why are Otter Pops legendary? Because Otter Pops features cartoon otters in rainbow colors. This is the sort of advertising that is like crack to children. It’s near-impossible to resist, let alone not fall completely in love with.
And I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Otter Pops, even without remembering what they taste like. I love the box they come in. I want to save it for when I move, and carry only my most beloved objects in it.
Back in the 1980s, Otter Pops were not as widely-distributed as their Fla-Vor-Ice counterpart. We begged for them when there was a rare Otter Pop sighting at the grocery store.
Otter Pops are small at only one ounch each, but they have a big heart. Finally, here’s a secret. They are exactly the same as Fla-Vor-Ice. They’re made by Jelsert, the same company, and there’s no use in reviewing the flavors, because they are exactly the same.
But…lest we forget…RAINBOW OTTERS.
Poncho Punch – He hates artificial plants.
Alexander the Grape – Regularly tours ancient ruins.
Strawberry Short Kook – Loves spelunking.
Louie Bloo Raspberry – The gay one. Hates oil spills.
Little Orphan Orange – The sad and helpless little girl.
Sir Issac Lime – The nerd. Pet peeve: mathematical inaccuracies.
I did, in fact, sample each flavor of Otter Pops to scientifically conclude that they’re the same, thus bringing my grand freeze pop total to twenty nine, and a blood sugar spike that is off the charts. I swear, the Otter Pops did seem to have a better “mouthfeel” than all the others, but now I sound like I’m reviewing a fine red wine.
Overall box grade: A++++++++ The classic flavors of Fla-Vor-Ice plus cartoon otters.
Now, anyone got any good freeze pop stories?