Wednesday, December 22, 2010

People's Pops Parties in Geneva

In November, Red Jacket Orchards, our favorite fruit supplier, invited us up to the farm in Geneva, New York, for a post-season party. When we got there, they wasted no time in stuffing us with booze and casserole, so much so that we pretty much entirely forgot to take commemorative photos of the experience. We dimly remember a nighttime orchard tour, a sauna right off the dining room, a hot tub with a splendid view of lake Geneva, and a very contrary vending machine in the Ramada Hotel.

Many thanks to our benevolent hosts Joe Nicholson (a 2010 Jordi Top 10 Recipient!), Mike Biltonen, Justone Bossert, Adam Gordon and Wen-Jay Ying for an extremely fabulous time.

as David says: nothing makes you smile like fruit fresh off the tree

Joel, Mike and Adam

cool pattern the forklift made in the snow

we are so psyched!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We Have Spare Time Now

It's late at night but what a delight to actually have time to troll the internet for websites like that will make pretty word clouds out of our blog's content. Whoo!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pained But Proud

So ladies and gentlemen. Our shop closes on Oct 15 (this Friday) and our last day at the Flea is Saturday, Oct 16. Here we finally are, six months later and 17 years older and — lo and behold—we still have all of our fingers and all of our toes.

Sadly, Joel no longer has any feeling in his fingers. The calluses that formed on his hands as a result of yanking thousands of pops out of their molds, one at a dang time, have become too thick for his nervous system to detect. The good thing about this is that he no longer feels pain, like Ronald Niedermann in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

For his part, David has lost all feeling in his toes, having deadened his feet from excessive jamming on ghost brakes as Joel performed death-defying deeds like merging and accelerating whilst driving Porky. He is now inured to fear, like Taylor Swift.

And I no longer have a soul. A few weeks ago, I moved to New Orleans to start business school at Tulane and now spend my time mastering the finer points of strategic douchebaggery.

Although the grind and minutiae of the day-to-day often obscured our progress, we really kicked it up a notch this year. Unlike 2008, when we only operated on the weekends and kept somewhat in touch with our day jobs, this year, we dropped everything to man our tiny 170-sq-foot shop for 186 days straight. We fed pops to Alton Brown, George Stephanopolous, Rachael Ray, Sandra Bernhard, Maria the “Money Honey,” Jennifer Garner, the duder from MGMT, and his mom. We led tours of our business for Whole Foods staff, Brigham Young business students and local elementary schools. We had much better weather than last year, when it rained for 28 days in June. We hired some really awesome people and managed to pay them in currency that looked like something other than frozen 3-oz chunks of fruit on a stick. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Working in pops this summer felt like training for a triathlon, only pops were the new world order. Every day we got up weary, prepared for another beat-down: another broken part of the van, another broken part of the freezer, another broken part of our backs. Our days began early and ended late and had far too little beer in them. But there was also an uncommon vigor, an unabashed willingness to get our hands dirty, attention paid to putting out a good product and treating people well, and a belief in all of this as a medium for social/environmental change as well as pleasure.

Ice pops effecting change? Yes, if you think about the tens of thousands of pounds of local fruit used, the tens of thousands of dollars that stayed inside the local economy, and the fact that we were able to employ tens of thousands of good people to further these ends. Ice pops as pleasure? Yes, and the other pleasure was you, popsifans: regular customers like the security guard at the Apple store, the pregnant women who visited daily and talked to her belly as she ate pops, the guy who works upstairs compiling statistics for Major League Baseball, the mysterious man who took 12 pops home in a bag with him almost daily, the trio of chemists from the DEA lab around the corner, the Brooklyn Flea contingent we saw every week, rain or shine.

This summer involved a lot of pain. But it’s been our pleasure. The season's not even over and we're already hatching plans for next year. Despite it all, we can't wait for spring.


Joel, David & Nathalie

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay, Watching the Tide Rooooll Away....

As Season III of the People's Pops draws to a close, we'd like to do a little reminiscin'.
It seems like far more than eight months ago that.....

We started with this:

Did some of this:

First, it looked like this:

And then it looked like this:

In the meantime, there was a little bit of this:

And a little bit of this:

R.I.P. Shaba.

But we were psyched about this:

(Whole Foods)

And this:

(The High Line)

And this:

(getting a recipe published in Bon Appetit)

And this:

(partnering with Red Jacket Orchards)

And this:

(the free giveaway we put on for the launch of the Cooking Channel)

We did a lot of this:

We couldn't have done without this:

Charlie Stopek

Rue Snider

People's Pops Heart 'n' Soul:
Top row: Nick Moore, Danielle Fillmore, Joel Horowitz, Nathalie Jordi, Rue Snider, Sharlena Powell
Bottom row: David Carrell, Gasky Joseph, Lora Wallace

the surfer girl, 3 years old and going strong

In conclusion:

There are still 2 weeks to go until we shut down Chelsea Market (October 15). Get thee to the pop stand...the winter's gonna be a long one!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Best Fan Mail Ever

One of the things that's most impressed me about our business over the last 3 seasons is our awesome ratio of fan mail to hate mail. Seriously, when do people ever take the time to write to someone they don't know other than when they're feeling angry, disappointed or stiffed?

Several times a week, though, people write to say they love our pops, and seriously, guys.....that really is what keeps us keepin' on.


So in the interest of celebrating y'all, see below for some of the best mail of the past 3 summers.

Here's the first-ever letter we got, sent Aug 17, 2008, from a woman who's come pretty much every weekend since:

Hi! Just wanted to drop a note to let you know that you're doing AWESOME things and my boyfriend and I look forward to your popsicles every Sunday. Even when you aren't there!
Thanks, Meredith

Caroline Rogers of the beautiful Looks Good To Me made our day by sending us this gorgeous watercolor she drew from the inspiration of our pops at the DUMBO Flea. The shape is wrong, but I really love the way it looks.

This one made us feel like heroes:

Dear People's Pops,
I am writing to say thank you. I have an ulcer and I'm stuck on the acid reflux diet. Among other things, I can't eat dairy, citrus, chocolate, or spices. This summer has been hard - I'm so jealous when I see people walk around the city with their ice cream cones and cups of fro yo. I've also discovered that most ice pops in the store are made with lemon or lime juice. The only icy treat I've found to eat this summer is vanilla tofutti, which leaves much to be desired.

Long story short, the strawberry rhubarb people's pop I had today SAVED MY SUMMER!

Thank you!!

This rad-looking chick sent us a picture of herself in front of a snowscape. We liked it so much that we put it on the "Who We Are" page of our website.

From a chatty Cathy who befriended David one day....

Hi David,

how are things going?

I checked out the pear pop a few days ago and I loved it!

I am staying at Janos house in Ardley over the weekend (Dr.Janos Marton, director of the Living Museum, Queens), he lives in this incredible old beautiful old Victorian style Villa with dozens of rooms and antique furntiure and a steinway grand piano, and I am enjoying being here sitting on the Veranda surrounded by a huge beautiful magical garden with the smell of wonderful flowers, cardigan birds that are singing for me and others and working on my doctorate...playing in between with three perrot beauties and dogs and is just amazing......

Tomorrow I will move on to Williamsburg and spend some time in NYC in the evenings....I will go out with a formerly Miss Sweden and stone sculptor tomorrow evening, she fell in love with me and wants to take me out for dinner and then to the prescreening from a movie about exciting! Friday my plane is going back- I am fullfilled with a lot of NY stories that are engraved in my heart.

Take a close eye onto yourself, keep your buisness running with ambition and passion!


R visiting from Switzerland

Lee Ann from Dallas was psyched:

I live in Dallas and am currently pregnant with our second child and in the middle of awful morning sickness. I am surviving on popsicles, and thinking every day about how wonderful your pops are. So, here's to hoping that you are someday soon in a Whole Foods or other venue within driving distance of Dallas. Until then, you will be a planned stop on all my future trips to NYC. There is nothing like your pops in the stores here..... Keep it up!

Lee Ann

Then there was this puzzling missive:

I had a blueberry and cream pop at the Chelsea Market back in June.

I wish I could have another, but unfortunately, I live many miles from there.

Perhaps I will visit again this summer and have another even though I know it will be a differetn flavor.

And who could forget the German tourist who hand-felted a People's Pop and sent us the photo:

Running a small business is BRUTAL. Every day, we have multiple moments when we wonder why we put up with the aggravation. When you write to tell us you love the pops, though, we remember why we do it, and....this makes everything worthwhile.

So thanks!!

In love & pops,

Joel, David & Nat

ADDENDUM 10/1/10

Following this post, popsifan Lia sent us this sweet pic:

Thanks Lia!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

People's Pops and Red Jacket Orchards, Sitting In A Tree

If you pinned the fruit season to a mathematical curve, this might be kind of what it would look like. For most of the year, there's zilch--and then all of a sudden, le deluge.

People's Pops to the rescue!! We've teamed up with the heroes at Red Jacket Orchards, our favorite farmers at the NYC Greenmarket, to offer a collaboration that solves this oversupply issue, just in time for the height of summer. Here's how it goes:
  1. Red Jacket sells us whatever fruit is at the absolute peak of its abundant season.
  2. The diligent elves at People's Pops turn the fruit into ice pops (peach-basil, plum-blueberry).
  3. Red Jacket takes the pops to the Greenmarket.
  4. New Yorkers everywhere are seized by an exquisite happiness they can't quite identify the source of...
  5. ...until they walk through the Greenmarket and see the SWEET-ASS UMBRELLA shading the lucky pop vendor at the Red Jacket Orchards stands (our elves are jealous).
From now until the fruit runs out, find Red Jacket Orchards' People's Pops at the following Greenmarkets:

Monday: Union Square
Tuesday: Borough Hall
Wednesday: Union Square
Thursday: Bowling Green
Friday: Union Square
Saturday: McCarren Park
Sunday: Midwood.

Is this a marriage made in heaven, or what??

We think so.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

People's Pops on the High Line!

Ladies and gentlemen, today's lesson: dreams do come true.

The first time I was ever on the High Line, the beautiful, re-purposed elevated railway-turned-greenway that runs up the west side of Chelsea, all I could think about was how much better-looking and happier everyone on the High Line would be if they were licking ice pops.

I can't help it, I think that way sometimes.

Ever since that first brilliant vision, we have been harassing the nice folks at the High Line to give us a chance to prove ourselves right, and they have finally done so. We are up there for 29 days (until Aug 20), from 12-9:30pm, and as it turns out, my surmise was correct. Everyone on the High Line armed with a pop or shave is better-looking, happier, or both.

My pictures aren't super good, so go and check it out for yourself! Sundown with a yellow plum & mint makes the quotidian a celebration.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wacky But Worth It

There are tons of things about our business that I lament us not having adequate time to plunge headlong into developing: an inventory system I can run on my iPhone, an automated payroll system that accounts for our highly irregular hours and staff, a more eco-friendly and attractive packaging solution….the list is a million miles long and growing every day. But I must say, the thing that goads me most unrelentingly is what to me represents the biggest of our many missed opportunities: our shop’s incredibly banal freezer display case.

Initially, we were hoping to have real pops on display behind the glass, but that dream quickly died after the lights at the top of our freezer kept melting them all down. So we whipped up a batch of wax pops and popped those in the case. It looks okay, but….

Ok, hear me out. Envision a world in which our freezer served as the stage for a fantastical diorama similar to the Washington Post’s extremely awesome annual Easter-time Marshmallow Peeps Contest. (Highlights from this year: “Where the Wild Peeps Are,” and “White House Party Peepers.” Seriously, check it out.) I mean, the glassed-in part of our freezer is 5’x 1’ x 1’… basically a few times the size of the shoeboxes with which we all made dioramas in elementary school. I have visions of scenes like “Ice Pops At The Beach” or “Ice Pops Hit The Disco.”

Joel jokes that the scenes should be true to life at the people’s pops, a retrospective of Summer 2010. Yeah boy. I can see it already. How about “Nat Getting Hit By A Car,” “Dave Nearly Getting Mugged While Van Shopping In Harlem,” “The Rhubarb Delivery Is Too Heavy To Get Off The Truck And Has To Return Upstate To The Farm,” or “The Fire Sprinkler In Our Freezer Explodes, Flooding The Entire Kitchen.”

Maybe depicting these scenes in miniature could bring us one step closer to being able to laugh at them. Is this art therapy?

Of course, we have no money to pay for a pop-themed diorama, and no time to do it ourselves either. But I always thought that it could be a fun project for an art school professor to give to his or her class, where everyone would get a month in the spotlight or whatever. Aren’t some people out there studying visual merchandising or window dressing and looking for experience, for something to put on their résumés? Or it could be a fun thing for an artist with too much time on their hands to quickly get a ton of exposure. A lot of people walk past our freezer case, and what’s a better example of public art than a sculpture in a pop shop?

So, people….who out there can make my dreams come true??

Seriously—email us at people[at] if you have any ideas!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Three Stooges On Ice

The number of ways in which this snippet eerily parallels our business is embarrassing...and hilarious.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Open Letter To The Worst Bank In The Known Universe

Dear Chase,



Ever since we opened our business bank account with you (see the hopefulness in our eyes on that very first day), you've done nothing but TREAT US LIKE SHIT.

We have no debt and impeccable personal credit. You started us on $500 worth of credit (for a BUSINESS!--my Amex gives me $10,000), citing our youth and inexperience. Since then, we have been good, responsible, solvent customers who pay bills on time and deposit money regularly. (Also, we are older!)

Every time we ask for more credit, you turn us down. We STILL have only $500 of credit.

You’ve turned down every loan for which we’ve ever applied, and as well as every line of credit (including one through the so-called Small Business Association).

You charge us for withdrawing change (hello, we run a retail shop).

Most egregiously, you ALSO charge us every time we DEPOSIT over $10,000 a month. Yes, Chase Bank, YOU MAKE US PAY TO GIVE YOU MONEY.

This month,
you charged us $60 just to withdraw and deposit money.

Your customer service is also appalling. Your employees don’t know your own rules and your managers can’t explain them.

Let me sum this up here. We are a successful, growing, three-year-old business with $500 worth of credit that gets charged to deposit money.

Thanks for ^%$&% NOTHING!

Nathalie, David and Joel

p.s. See you at HSBC.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Some Thoughts On Strategy

In other big news for the week: Inc. magazine put us on the list of Brooklyn's Best Entrepreneurs, alongside a privileged cohort composed of the likes of Brooklyn Brewery, Etsy, Steiner Studios.....what? If this continues, we're actually going to start taking ourselves seriously!!

We're a little baffled by the attention. Last week, we got an email from a professor at Brigham Young University who was taking a group of business students to New York and wanted to know if we'd be willing to take a few minutes to talk about "the strategy behind People's Pops as an emerging brand."

Strategy? Is that what's happening while we're drinking wine on the sidewalk as we paint our sandwich boards? (one of which was stolen off 15th street today, btw, so if you see it, tackle the mofo!)

We like being flattered, so we said yes, and after a long day in the kitchen, I sped over to the shop, spattered with raspberry juice and the rotten pong of things left perennially undone. The nineteen students--clean-cut, well-mannered, inquisitive--had spent their morning at American Express and their afternoon at Johnson & Johnson. They looked at me and David expectantly. I told them our story, all of it--of how making pops for a one-day market with my prom date and his roommate most unexpectedly turned into a vibrant, dynamic business (manufacturing, retail, wholesale, catering) that, daily for the past three summers, has had us toeing the delicate balance between euphoria and despair ever so unpleasantly schizophrenically.

There's no secret, or if there is, it's still unknown to us, too. Our story works because it's actually a true and believable story, not something a marketing executive had to dream up. Our product works because it's carefully made using quality stuff. Our business works because we treat our suppliers, our customers, our employees and ourselves with respect, trust and affection. (And because we work our asses off.) The hype? I have no idea where it comes from, but I'm grateful for it. I'd like to think it's due to the reasons above--is that unrealistic?

The business school students had polite, pointed questions: "Have you considered franchising?" "Can you identify your most persistent bottlenecks?" "Will you be taking on investors?" I answered them to the best of my ability, knowing that sounder, more measured business owners would have spent time actually talking to each other about things like this. We don't, because anytime we come close to having 30 seconds to take a macro look at the business, the freezer fails and the van overheats.

So the monster grows, and we just try to keep up: that's our strategy. But I feel good about how, despite everything, we continue being capable of keeping the most important things about our business intact: good local fruit, happy customers, and having fun with each other. Actually, wait: maybe that's our strategy.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our T-shirts have arrived!!

Although Rue is smiling ultra-uncomfortably, our *brand-new* t-shirts are actually ultra-comfortable....the American Apparel cotton/poly blend. We're selling them for $20 and have unisex sizes S, M, L and XL.

For this, many thanks to awesome UT Austin art professor Jason Urban, who sketched the yellow pop on the design at left. We saw this incredible t-shirt he did for Threadless, and asked him to work with us, and to our great delight, he agreed!!

Many thanks to Brooklyn screenprinter Crown Prints for their good work, too. Next stop: tote bags?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

People's Pops (TM) No-Fail Diet

My cousin recently saw this picture in Julia Moskin's recent New York Times story on shave ice and told me, basically, to stop, sit down and eat a sandwich.

It's true. While I haven't exactly been mistaken for Kate Moss yet, I am definitely channeling a Giada-big head in the pic. And yesterday when I left my apartment in a big rush (as usual) I had to make a U-turn a minute later to change my pants, which were literally falling off my hips.

In fact, we've all lost weight, partially because we're racking our brains over what the hell to do this winter. So that's why we have decided to market, once the ice pop season ends, the People's Pops No-Fail Diet (TM). It goes like this:
  1. Work every single day from dawn to midnight.
  2. Work every single day from dawn to midnight.
  3. Work every single day from dawn to midnight.
  4. Work every single day from dawn to midnight.
  5. Work every single day from dawn to midnight.
  6. Work every single day from dawn to midnight.
  7. Work every single day from dawn to midnight.
  8. Work every single day from dawn to midnight.
  9. Work every single day from dawn to midnight.
  10. Forget to eat.
Between freezers on the fritz, vans on the fritz, and employees on the David put it in a text message last night, "We're really pioneering new ways to lose money."

It's okay, New York City. We've still got the essentials: two arms, two legs and a nicely toned set of asses from all the heavy lifting. And as Joel responded to David's text last night, "I like making lifelong friends the hard way."


Sunday, June 6, 2010

German tourist: Felted a People's Pop at Home

We get some pretty far-out emails, but this one took the cake. It was from a nice woman named Anna Franziska, and its entire contents are in the subject line above. Attached was this picture:

What could be a better thing to find in your inbox on a Sunday morning??

Thanks Anna Franziska! You made our day!