Too often we take the things around us for granted, without stopping to wonder how they came into being. Almost everyone in the US knows what a palette is, but how many of you really know how it was invented?
In 1905 in San Francisco, an 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson wanted to make soda pop and mix powdered soda with water. He used a stick to stir his invention and then turned his attention to other things. The drink was left on the porch overnight and Frank discovered it the next day; froze solid with the stir bar still in thanks to record low temperatures overnight.
Eighteen years later, Frank remembered the incident and decided to present his invention at Neptune Beach in California. His frozen treat was an instant hit, so he patented his idea. He originally called his invention “Eppsicle”, but was eventually convinced by his children to change the name to “Popsicle”. Some also referred to the frozen treat as an “ice lolly.”
While Epperson’s invention was well received by the public, it did not bring the instant monetary success he hoped to rescue him from his struggles in the real estate business.
Epperson associated his Popsicle Corporation with the Loew Movie Company which handled the sales and marketing of the product. He only had the patent from 1924 to 1929 before selling it; he was bankrupt and liquidated all his assets for cash even though he had earned royalties on 60 million popsicle sales.
Frank sold his paddle rights to Joe Lowe Company of NY. The treat was later sold for a nickel and made from birch sticks. Popsicle sticks are still popular today in many craft and school projects. Later, in 1965, the rights were sold to Consolidated Foods. In 1986, Popsicle’s operations in the US fell under the control of the Gold Bond Ice Cream Company of Wisconsin, and were later sold to the Good Humor subsidiary of the British-Dutch consumer food company Unilever.
Another frozen treat product that you may recognize is also owned by Unilever is the Creamsicle. It is a vanilla ice cream covered with ice flavored in orange, lime, cherry, grape or blue raspberry. The Dreamsicle is similar to the Creamsicle, but its center contains frozen milk instead of ice cream.
Another name you’ll recognize among ice cream delicacies is Fudgsicle, also owned by Unilever; Fudgsicle can be found in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white chocolate.
A new addition to the Popsicle line is Slow Melt Pops, which contains gelatin to prevent it from melting as quickly as the original treat.
Today, the original seven flavors have grown to include thirty; the most popular flavor is the classic orange and has been for many years.
Frank lived to be 89 and regretted the sale of the patent in 1929 for the rest of his life.