The happiest accident: How popsicles were invented
Popsicles are a delightful collaboration that has made kids happy for over a century!
The first popsicles were accidentally made in 1905 by an 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson. He had left a cup of soda he’d mixed up with a stirring stick outside on a cold winter night.
When he discovered it the next day, that stick was embedded in a what turned out to be a tasty frozen treat and popsicles were born!
Epperson began selling them in his neighborhood in seven different flavors for five cents each, eventually expanding his market to a local amusement park.
Frank called his invention the “Epsicle.” It was a hit with the kids at school, and later with his own kids who called it “Pop’s ‘sicle.” The name was catchy and the treat was delicious, so Frank patented it in 1923 to share his Popsicle® ice pops with the world!
Nowadays, more than 2 billion of the Popsicle-brand ice pops are sold annually (side note: currently, cherry is the most popular flavor). Talk about a success story! And all from such a simple, happy collaboration between a kid and Mother Nature.
Here, we’ve got a look back at retro Popsicles and many other frozen treats we’ve enjoyed over the decades.
Retro popsicle ad with Joan Edwards (1940s)
You’re never too old or too young to enjoy Popsicle!
Joan Edwards says “Here’s a double feature that always wins applause in our home!”
When you’re trying to hold your young fans in line… give them a twin-size “Popsicle”! Gets dishes done faster… beds made neatly… even gels the grass cull!
Good for them, too… pure and wholesome as any food your dairy sells.
Treat your fans to “Popsicle” — America’s tastiest double-feature.
Also see: Jell-O Pudding Pops & other cool treats from the ’80s new wave of popsicles
Caught! That pure orange flavor… (1953)
Naturally, “Popsicle”, the king of all cooling refreshments, is available in a host of other delicious flavors, too! You’ll find them wherever good ice cream is sold…
Vintage comic book ad for Popsicle (1955)
60’s cartoon Popsicle ad (1965)
So delicious, so cool ‘n refreshing, it’s the champion of frozen treats!
And now: the whole “Sicle” family in happy, handy multi-packs! Popsicle, Creamsicle, and Fudgsicle! For the favorite frozen treats of all, look for the red “Sicle” ball — sign of the real thing!
There’s only one! Popsicle frozen treats. (1978)
Nothing compares to genuine Popsicle’ frozen treats for superior refreshment. They’re loved by kids and adults everywhere. For over 50 years.
When it’s great taste and quality you’re after, insist on the real thing. Just look for the red “Sicle” ball. Sign of the one and only.
Don’t miss! Old-fashioned Tastee-Freez ice cream shops: Remember these treats?
Low calorie Popsicle and Fudgsicle (1982)
There’s nothing better on a stick… or a scale!
Popsicle — with only 70 calories per 3-oz. bar.
Fudgesicle — only 100 calories per 2-1/2-oz. bar.
All fudge. No pudge. (1991)
Sugar Free Fudgsicle; Sugar Free Popsicle; and Sugar Free Creamsicle Bran Treats. Half the calories, all of the fun!
Go ahead, indulge yourself! And don’t think twice. Cause they’re made with 100% NutraSweet. So try them all. And remember — they’re only big on taste.
Dole Fruit ‘n Juice bars (1985)
Dole Fruit ‘n Juice bars aren’t just for fun. They’re for real.
Real fruit. Real juice. Real good. What a refreshing way to eat fruit.
Weight Watchers breaks the taste barrier. (1986)
Diet frozen desserts used to have the kind of taste you couldn’t warm up to.
But now Weight Watchers announces a taste breakthrough that allows you to enjoy rich, delicious, satisfying taste… that won’t go to your waist.
Dole Fruit ‘n Juice ice pops from 1985
Introducing pineapple, strawberry, orange!
100% natural Dole Fruit ‘n Juice bars. Real crushed fruit, real juice, too. What a refreshing way to eat fruit.
Grown-up goodies: Chiquita Fruit & Juice Pops (1986)
Pure, natural, low in calories — Chiquita pops are for people old enough to care about what they eat.
But they’re also delicious enough for those too young to care at all — from the 4 cool, refreshing flavors of Chiquita Fruit & Juice Pops to the 6 delectable choices of Chiquita Fruit & Cream Pops.
Of course, they’re all made with real, fresh fruit — just what you’ve grown to expect from Chiquita.
Weight Watchers’ Orange Vanilla Treat breaks the taste barrier. (1987)
What’s the best way to describe new Jell-O Gelatin Pops? (1984)
“Fruity!” “Smooth!” “Refreshing!” “Yummy!”
Describing new Jell-O Gelatin Pops isn’t easy because there’s nothing else like it.
It’s refreshing like ice pops and smooth like ice cream. It has that great Jell-O Gelatin fruit taste, whipped smooth and frozen on a stick. It tastes delicious, but it’s only 35 calories a pop!
Try new Jell-0 Gelatin Pops. Your whole family will love how fruity, smooth, refreshing and yummy they really are.
Welch’s Double Dare Sour ice pops (1999)
Not recommended for adults — Welch’s Double Dare Sour ice pops totally rule! We double dare ya!
Disney magic made for little hands. (1988)
Delightful, delicious, delectable Disney Frozen Treats!
Treat your child to the magical array of mouthwatering Ice Pops, Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bars, creamy Pudding Bars, smooth and luscious Cream Pops or treat-size Cookies ‘n Cream. In the fun shapes of Mickey and the gang. All those in favor…raise your hand!
Taste the magic of Disney Frozen Treats!
Retro Nickelodeon Green Slime ice pops (1998)
Taste the magic of Disney Frozen Treats. (1987)
Treat your children to the magic of Disney Frozen Treats. They’re made of good things like real ice cream and refreshing fruit flavors.
Disney Frozen Treats, in the shapes of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. They’ll tickle your child’s imagination.
Discoverer of popsicle recalls idea (1971)
From The Capital-Journal (Pierre, South Dakota) September 1, 1971
The man who invented the Popsicle wishes he had been more careful about the name.
Frank W. Epperson, now 77, said in an interview with the San Francisco-Chronicle that he had named the confection an ‘‘Epsicle”, allowing the other name to go to the Popsicle Corp. which now owns his patents.
Epperson recalled that when he was only 11 and living in San Francisco that chance figured in his discovery.
He had mixed soda waters and left them on a back porch in a glass with a mixing, stick — on one of the few nights, the temperature ever got below freezing in San Francisco.
That next day in 1905 he found an “Epsicle’” in the glass. Epperson started manufacturing the product in the early 1920s but eventually sold his patents because of real estate losses in the 1929 Depression.
“Epsicle is not a good name… I should have protected the name Popsicle.” The “pop” comes from the sound made when the frozen handle was pulled from the test tube.
Popsicle has 50th birthday (1973)
By Betty Flynn — Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida) May 30, 1973
The first one was lemon-flavored, shaped like a glass and attached to a string.
Now, 42 flavors and 68 years later, the popsicle is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Actually Californian Frank Epperson, was 11 when he put a glass of lemonade on his bedroom windowsill with a spoon in it. and accidentally invented the popsicle in 1905.
But it was in 1923 that Epperson patented the frozen-ice confection, called it an “Eppsicle’” for awhile. then changed the name to popsicle.
“A part of American history” is how the popsicle people billed their golden anniversary party recently at the Tavern on the Green, which featured accordion music, fried shrimp, meatballs, a big gooey birthday cake, loads of drinks, and just a few popsicles for some visiting Girl Scouts.
“Are popsicles good for children?”, Edward Gaebler, Popsicle Industries president was asked.
“It keeps them happy,” he answered, “and mental health is just as important as physical health. Besides people eat for more reasons than just to preserve life — at least in an affluent society like ours.”
Gaebler ought to know, as Popsicle Industries, a division of the $2 billion-a-year. Chicago-based Consolidated Foods Corp., sells as many as nine billion popsicle products, including creamsicles, dreamsicles, fudgsicles and cherrios (an ice cream bar) — a year.
“It’s actually quiescently frozen water ice.” Gaebler, who became popsicle president 16 months ago. “Ice cream that eats well is aerated, but water ice has no air. It’s poured into molds, washed with a brine solution so it is frozen quickly, then dipped in hot water so it can be extracted easily.”
Some of the more exotic flavors these days includes guava, watermelon, coconut and fruit punch. Plus some interesting combinations that are either swirled together or molded in layers.
Popsicle inventor Frank Epperson, who stopped receiving any remuneration for his discovery when his patent ran out in the 1940s. was not present, but Gaebler said Epperson had no hard feelings about it.
He brought out a telegram from California, in which the retired Epperson dispatched his congratulations, sincere thanks and best wishes. The telegram, however, was sent collect.
Demand for Popsicles continued to grow after the war, and the company became Popsicle Industries of Englewood Cliffs, a division of Consolidated Foods, annually producing 3 billion stick confections.
Last week, the company threw a 50th anniversary party at Tavern on the Green. It had all the overtones of a kid’s birthday party. Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts enjoyed their fill of Popsicles and birthday cake with unabashedly sentimental company executives.
Among them were Edward Gaebler of New York, Popsicle president; Ralph Cripps of Park Ridge, Norman Peyton of Teaneck, Elton Vineburg of Tenafly, and Pam Adams of Oradell.
Frank Epperson was not able to make the trip from California for the party. He telegraphed his regrets and said he would mark the occasion by sharing a Popsicle treat with his grandchildren, Matthew and Nancy Epperson.
Gov. William T. Cahill telegraphed his regrets, as did Atty. Gen. Louis J. Lefkowitz of New York.
But it was U.S. Sen. James D. Buckley’s telegram that brought down the house. He said he regretted his inability to attend, and that Elizabeth Doyle of his staff would represent him at the party, closing with: “‘My coldest, double-stick, orange congratulations on the 50th anniversary of this great discovery.”
Max Sturges, chief chemist at Englewood Cliffs, says that although there are 34 different flavors, orange is still the most popular.
See more: Pepperidge Farm remembers: See 50 of their classic cakes, cookies, breads, turnovers & other treats from years ago