I’m one of those people who always wonders if you can do more with your food and drink. And this time, I got a chance to mix one of my favorite sodas with some amazing ice pops.
This started a few weeks ago when Dikla and I went to Arcade Lights, a dining experience at Pike Place Market. I first found the Six Strawberries booth, a brand new ice pop company run by Will Lemke and Vanessa Ressler, and picked up a blueberry ice pop. They were across the way from DRY Soda, a locally based soda brand that makes flavors like juniper and cucumber. I didn’t want to drink a full soda, so I had them pour some vanilla bean soda on top of my ice pop. It was awesome.
As awesome as that pairing was, I was sure there was a potential for even more amazing flavor combinations. So, one twitter flurry later, DRY Soda and Six Strawberries were both on board to let me do potentially horrible things to their products.
- Vanilla Bean
- Blood Orange
- Wild Lime
The ice pops:
- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
- Blueberry Lemonade
- Blackberry Pie a la mode (blackberry with vanilla swirl)
- Latte, made with Caffe Vita coffee
- Fudge, made using Theo vegan dark chocolate, with and without Junior Mints
- Roasted Pear, Bartlett and Asian Pear varieties
I taste-tested everything but the Latte, as I can’t handle coffee well, and Asian Pear. (I feel like I should do a giveaway on the Latte pops; they smell wonderful.)
I broke each pop into eight pieces, then tried one soda flavor at a time against all the ice pop varieties. I tasted each mix right after I poured the soda, and again approximately 15 minutes later, or after the pops were mostly melted. I’ll spare you the gory details, but here’s a summary of what worked, what was okay, and what I hope I will never drink again.
- Roasted Bartlett Pear versus almost everything. This was the standout of the whole experiment. In vanilla bean soda, it became this delicate, pear spritzer, reminding me of sparkling wine. In rhubarb, you got tastes of apple and pear. It didn’t work against cucumber, becoming something I dubbed spa soda, but that hit of ripe pear really improved on everything else.
- Vanilla in Vanilla Bean soda. Basically a non-alcoholic pina colada. I think Cassandra could get behind this one with some rum involved.
- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie in Vanilla Bean soda. It mellowed out the soda, rounding it out with cinnamon and strawberry.
- Fudge in Vanilla Bean soda. It looked awful at first with the foam and floating chocolate bits, and wasn’t that great at first sip. After the pop melted, the Theo chocolate’s bitterness balanced out the soda’s sweetness. It tasted like melted, fizzy chocolate.
- Blueberry Lemonade. It didn’t tend to work with the sodas – it just dominated. It worked best with Blood Orange soda, giving you a berry hit to start and a citrus finish, but in most cases it just made the soda vaguely taste berry-like.
- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. The graham cracker dusting overtook a lot of the flavor, so most pairings had a cinnamon finish. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie was great with Blood Orange, Rhubarb, and Vanilla, but bland every other time.
- Vanilla and Blackberry Pie A La Mode. Except for the pina colada tastiness with vanilla bean soda, these both suffered from Six Strawberries’ use of the “CocoFu” faux-cream base. While this works great in pop form, when mixed with soda all I could smell and taste was the coconut. This tended to get ramped up to cloyingly sweet in rapid time. If you like sweet coconut tastes, you’ll love it, but I could barely drink it.
- Vanilla pop with Rhubarb soda. Buttery, closest to drinking buttered popcorn Jelly Belly beans. It also smelled strongly of fake coconut to the point where I had to hold my nose to take a sip.
Given that all the pops are non-dairy/vegan except for the graham-cracker dusting on Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and the Junior Mints, and the sodas can manage to stay bubbly for ages, there’s a lot of unexplored potential. I’d like to work on alcoholic cocktails that shift tastes as you melt a popsicle into them, or fancy poolside drinks for summer. For now, I need to go stock up on Roasted Bartlett Pear ice pops and vanilla soda for New Years’ Eve.