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It's been hot. Really hot. That's not all bad because it gives me a chance to go buck wild with one of my favorite foods--ice cream. Technically speaking, paletas aren't ice cream, but the Mexican-style iced pops bring the same satisfaction in a manageable, on-a-stick form. Viva Pops, in Normal Heights, specializes in paletas and the brightly-colored shop looks like La Michoacana's San Diego cousin.


Viva Pops started out peddling iced treats out of a freezer cart at farmers' markets and the store didn't open up until a few years of success in that realm. There's a vegan-organic-local theme that underpins the business, but it isn't taken to the point of distraction. That's nice for most of us because, while most people appreciate the option of organic foods and the like, it's hardly a deal-breaker for the majority and we feel a but smugly looked down upon when the thing gets taken too far. The company's policy of compassion pokes through in other ways, too. There's a little donation box for an animal rights charity on the counter; make a donation and get a free "dog pop" made of carrots and juice for canines. Cute.

Pops come in flavors that range from normal (blackberry, caramel) to classically Mexican (chili mango) to inventive and refreshing combinations of fruit and herbs (strawberry and cilantro or cucmber). Hand-made and carefully frozen, the pops have a silky texture that puts Otter Pops to shame. They're heavy on the sugar or agave nectar, which gives them that richness, but the pops are the right size and the sweet, frostiness feels just right.

As with any other "gourmet" product, the pops aren't the cheapest. Most of the cost $3 and the more special flavors--blueberry and goat cheese, anyone?--are $3.50. Let's be real, that's not a lot of money. It just seems like a lot compared to Hershey's Ice Pops. But Hershey's doesn't make a lavender lemonade flavor, last time I checked.

3330 Adams Avenue
Wed-Thurs 1-8
Friday 1-9
Saturday 12-9
Sunday 12-5

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Ed Bedford Sept. 15, 2012 @ 5:36 p.m.

This sounds a really good one. Gotta try that cucumber flavor. But the contest for Top of the Pops continues. If it wasn't 100 degrees I'd be out there searching. Think I'll wait for the cool cool cool of the evening though. Then watch out. You can tell them I'll be there (as the song goes)


Ian Pike Sept. 15, 2012 @ 7:53 p.m.

Yup, pops are fair game I think. I tried to go to Mariposa for ice cream, but they are shut down due to construction. When they open back up, that may be the next (or nearly next) stop in the ice cream quest.


Dave Rice Sept. 16, 2012 @ 8:24 p.m.

Cucumber and strawberry-cilantro certainly sound enticing...but the more I read about you going on and on with this chili-mango obsession, the more I think I've got to give it a try.


Ian Pike Sept. 17, 2012 @ 7:15 a.m.

The paleta that I had in TJ the other day had big hunks of mango in it and I'm pretty sure it was all glued together with frozen mango puree. Yum. It's a great flavor combo, especially with a good shot of salt and lime. Neveria Tocumbo is a great place to go if you're at all proximal to downtown/east village areas.


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