Two years ago, I wrote a very special post. It was so special, it was the equivalent of an after-school special bottled up in Internet blog form with Linda Ellerbee and McGruff the Crime Dog as co-hosts. Two years ago, you see, I had decided to review freeze pops. Like, ALL of the freeze pops. I went mad and filled my freezer with one hundred and eighty two of them. It came to about twenty-nine different flavors total, and I tried each one. Which means I ate twenty-nine pops in about an hour. And then I died and came back to life. True story.
You can find the original post here: Freeze Pops, Reviewed.
Freeze Pops Reviewed was one of my most popular posts at the time and continues still to receive lots of hits. Privately though, a couple of family members and friends had pulled me aside to ask if I had really eaten twenty-nine of them. Primarily it was my mother, who was somewhat concerned about my mental state. I confessed I didn’t really eat all twenty-nine of them. I had only sampled a little bit of each of them. Really.
Or maybe I lied, well aware that the next step would have been an intervention. WHAT. YOU GUYS THINK I HAVE SOME SORT OF PROBLEM? A FREEZE POP PROBLEM?
Rest assure, I can handle my freeze pops.
That was my freezer two years ago. As you can see, we had six cases of freeze pops, one bag of frozen peas, and four bottles of booze. I can explain this. Really.
We were at a crossroads in life. The wife/then-girlfriend and I had just moved out of the city and out of our various roommate situations. We were out of school once-and-for-all, each finished with our Master’s programs—mine in writing, hers in social work. We had just moved in together, into a tiny horrible apartment where the people above us were constantly dragging weighted bags of sand across the floor at all hours. There’s really no other rational explanation for what the hell they were doing.
Oh god, this apartment. It was the kind of place where the bathroom was a step back in time—and not a cute pink-tiled vintagey step, but more like the kind of step where you fear getting a foot infection. I could go on to describe the peeling paint, the broken blinds, and the weird smell in the hallway, but I’ll keep it simple with just one more word. Dump. The place was a dump.
Worst of all, there was no dishwasher. Up to that point, the girlfriend and I had survived many testing moments in the course of our relationship—you know, the regular stuff, petty arguments and those road trips where you want to kill each other—and yet, washing each other’s dishes by hand is the real test of true love.
And that’s sort of the short version of how we ended up with one hundred and eighty two freeze pops, one bag of peas, and four bottles of booze. We felt like vagabonds, but there was also something fun about this, and we knew it then, and maybe that’s why we were happy.
This is my freezer in 2012.
A lot has happened in two years. We bought a house. The wife got a new job. I got a new car. I went on a diet. I lost ten pounds. We decorated our house for Christmas. We decorated it for Halloween. We raked the leaves that fell from all our trees. We grew grass in our yard in May. It died in July. Our basement flooded. We pulled up the carpet. Using a wet-vac is kind of fun. We got married. We practiced dancing in our living room for our first dance. I don’t know if I was any good, but my dad came up to me afterwards and said I had passed the audition. We went to Disney World. We bought a grill. And patio furniture. And outdoor plates, which are the same as indoor plates, except with more color.
And somewhere in that time I ate one hundred and sixty-four freeze pops. There are just eighteen left of the original one hundred and eighty-two. Yes, they moved with us. Like, why wouldn’t they? It was never a question. Well, maybe it was a question with my wife, but if it was, she was smart not to ask it. Otter pops is family, yo.
All I have to say is life is what happens to you while you’re busy eating freeze pops. But enough reminiscing. I think it’s time to review some more for the summer. Last time, I reviewed each of twenty-nine flavors across six different varieties. Now I’ve got four more varieties to add to our canon of reviews. I should do this every year until eventually The Surfing Pizza becomes the go-to source for freeze pops. Like I always say, if you’re going to be the go-to source for something in life, it might as well be that. Even though I’ve never said that.
First up: Tropical Fla-Vor-Ice
They’re a beach getaway in frozen corn syrup form.
Berry Punch – Berry Punch is the same exact blue flavor that comes in the standard pack. The standard blue flavor in the standard pack is also called Berry Punch, so at least it’s not like they tried to fool us by renaming it.
However that’s what they did with Summer Punch.
Summer Punch – This is the standard red Strawberry flavor renamed as Summer Punch, making it no more tropical and no less lame.
Tropical Punch – This is the same as the pink flavor in the standard box, which is also known there as Tropical Punch. So far, the Tropical Variety of Fla-Vor-Ice is no different than the regular box. It’s a beach getaway where it rains everyday.
Banana – Except, okay, this is it: fake banana flavor in all its glory. This is the holy grail of fake banana flavor I’ve been searching for. Fake banana is one my favorite things IN LIFE.
Citrus Punch – Here’s an odd one. This tastes like a fake margarita flavor. It has a bit of a bite to it, like a bitter and salty lime.
Pineapple – Really tastes like a pineapple.
Overall box grade: C- It’s lame that they couldn’t be bothered to make three new flavors at the ominous-sounding JelSert factory, which I imagine has huge smokestacks and gargoyle statues. However, the fake banana and quirky margarita flavors redeem the box enough for me to give it a passing grade.
Next, the Fla-Vor-Ice Fudge Pops.
I can’t decide if these are new or not. Have they been around? Have they been gone and now back? I certainly remember something like these from my childhood, but I could just be remembering the chocolate Yoohoo versions of these. Either way, these are GREAT. They purport to be made with real Hershey’s and they taste like it, too. You won’t find a “mockolate” flavor here. Instead, they taste like a rich, frozen chocolate syrup. They don’t seem to freeze fully, so you don’t get a frozen hard bar of chocolate tundra, but instead a malleable and soft squeeze.
Overall box grade: A+ Summer idea time: I’m totally going to live wild this weekend and mix up one of these with the banana flavor above and add some rum.
Wyler’s Italian Ice
At first I thought Wyler’s was some charming old-timey brand. I mean, look at that font. How could that not be some seventy-five year old company that was founded by adorable old people who brought over the secret family recipe over from the Old World?
But instead, it’s made by the evil JelSert castle, the same company that makes Fla-Vor-Ice, meaning they’re pretty much the exact same thing. In fact, JelSert markets its same freeze pops under multiple brands, including Frootee Ice, Mr. Freeze, Pop Ice, and Kool Ice. The JelSert company is kind of creepy that way. Does this brand of sneaky marketing work? Do some kids grow up with an allegiance to the terribly generic snowman on the Mr. Freeze box? Is there a God? Is someone at the JelSert company laughing their ass off at me right now for reviewing what is pretty much the same freeze pop over and over?
And no matter how many times they print the word “authentic” all over the wrappers and box, these are not at all like Italian Ices. They’ve got some strange effect going on that keeps them freezing fully like an ice bar, but it’s not quite slushy. It’s more sludgey. I looked at the ingredients on the back and these things have about ten more unpronounceable chemicals over the regular Fla-Vor-Ice bars. They taste chemically, too.
Orange Creme: – It’s decent. It tastes like an orange creamsicle made by robots.
Raspberry – Throat burning chemical red dye flavor.
Kiwi Watermelon – Green syrup flavor with a hint of watermelon. Oddly enough, this whole Wyler’s thing seems to be marketed to adults with “refined” tastes, but the irony is that this is truly the stuff kids crave. Green syrup is like child rocket fuel for crabwalking sideways across their bedroom walls while strung out on the green shit.
Lemon – This is the Pine-sol flavor of the bunch. Ick.
Overall box grade: F Weird fake marketing, weird chemicals, weird slushy syrup.
I’ve seen these every year, but this is the first time I’m trying them.
Orange Crush: Tastes like any orange flavor you’d find in any old box.
Dr. Pepper: Wow – this one is a revelation. I hate Dr. Pepper in soda form, but I’m somewhat surprised to love it in freeze pop form. It doesn’t have any sort of carbonation feel about it, but it nevertheless mimics the soda pretty well. This is unmistakably Dr. Pepper. It’s a pleasing concoction of candied cherry and cola in frozen form. Check this box out if you dig Dr. Pepper.
7Up: After the revelation of the Dr. Pepper flavor, I’m disappointed to say this one is just a rather basic lemon lime flavor, only without the green dye. The clearness itself is refreshing though.
A&W Root Beer: I had the opposite effect of the Dr. Pepper. While it tastes just like root beer and I love root beer, I didn’t love this. Root Beer’s flavor is really in that satisfying barksy spiciness, and here it’s just replicated in syrup form.
Overall Box Grade: B- Nothing is bad here and the novelty of the soda flavors adds some spark.
And that’s what I’ve got. See you again in 2013 for another look inside my freezer, the latest in freeze pops, and life.