THE INFAMOUS HEAT of the low country keeps locals searching for the best trick to keep cool during most of the year.
My favorite way to cool down is to find a frozen treat like a popsicle or ice cream and the family behind Palmetto Pops truly understand the need for a refreshing treat to cool off during unseasonably hotter times in Savannah. But no matter the time of year, an icy cold, handmade popsicle tastes like something special.
With origins in Mexico, the team behind the local shop said they opened to bring traditional Paletas, or fresh fruit popsicles, to the southern part of the United States.
Owner April Perez explained the history of Palmetto Pops: “With our roots being from Mexico, where the traditional ice pop got reinvented and made into what is known as ‘Paletas’ (Pops made with real fresh fruit), it was that one thing that we really missed from back home and that we couldn’t find anywhere here.
“We would get excited to try the ice pops, whenever we saw a stand or at a grocery store but would be quickly disappointed as it did not come anywhere near to the taste that we knew and longed for. And that’s when the whole concept began and I wanted to make sure people have a chance to taste the difference of a real fruit ice pop and premium ice cream bars. And somehow combine both cultures into an awesome sweet business!”
The Palmetto Pops family started out small by selling their gourmet creations from their quaint mobile cart. After taking off, the frozen treats became more widely available around South Carolina.
“Our dream is to open a storefront in our hometown of Bluffton SC, where we can serve not only our gourmet pops but also enjoy fresh fruit drinks and unique artisanal ice cream flavors like our Sweet Corn or Horchata ice cream along with many other delicious treats, so stay tuned,” Perez said.
Luckily for Savannah, there are several shop owners that share the Palmetto Pop goods all over the Low Country and Savannah. Palmetto Pops can be found around Chatham County at places like A Southern Lifestyle Company, Polk’s Plus, Davis Produce and the Tybee Island Farmers’ Market.
If you are in search of these handcrafted popsicles, you need to be fast because they sell out rather quickly.
“We currently participate in Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and Tybee Island Farmers Market. But several local specialty stores carry our pops in both SC and GA. Please check us out online at palmettopopshhi.com for the nearest place to you!”
Instagram at @palmettopops is another good source to find out more about the frozen treat makers.
Traditionally the popsicles are made with real cane sugar and the freshest of fruit.
“We are inspired by traditional flavors from Latin America but we also listen to customers’ ideas and use local fruits when in season,” Perez said.
For example, customers can find specialty traditional flavors like marzipan, creamy coconut or mango chili.
Pops are both cream based and fruit based.
“The fact that we use real fresh fruit and no concentrates, frozen or artificial flavors really sets us apart,” Perez said. “We also enjoy making every recipe in an artisanal way that fits any diet restriction, including dairy and dairy free pops or ones sweetened with agave nectar only.”
And although popsicles are usually considered kid’s food, Palmetto’s are nothing like you find in any freezer section of the grocery store. Palmetto Pops are what popsicles aspire to be when they grow up. The use of fresh fruit alone takes a normal popsicle and makes it into something great.
I first went for the Banana Nutella. That is right, fresh creamy banana jammed with a creamy Nutella filling. It has the best of both worlds, chocolate and fruit. The natural creaminess of the banana shell is amplified by the gooey chocolate hazelnut center.
I am also a huge fan of the ultra-creamy Blackberry Cheesecake. It is not the most traditional flavor but a show stopper nonetheless. The jarring white cheesecake filling that is swirled with vibrant chunky blackberry fruit is visually stunning and stunning in flavor.
There are traditional southern creamy flavors featured as well. Butter Pecan and Peaches and Cream are just a few southern standouts. And the creamy side of the menu includes Strawberries and Cream and Cookies and Cream.
You can see huge chunks of real strawberries floating in the Classic Strawberry. There is a tropical Mango and a Mango Chili with fiery chili emulsified throughout. A little heat to balance the sweet is a unique but approachable flavor.
Each fruit flavor combination is painstakingly hand made. Hours of work go into peeling, chopping and seasoning the fruit. And for the fresh coconut, the kitchen even whips out a machete. You can taste the love infused into each popsicle.
According to Perez, “Our Watermelon Lime pops also look like an actual piece of watermelon, but in this case you can eat the white and green, that makes up the Lime flavor! A kid favorite for sure!”
For this popsicle you will find a bright pink top that sits on top of the green lime flavored base, which actually does resemble the actual watermelon fruit.
Recently, the pop shop expanded their menu into ice cream, featuring a Key Lime Pie Ice Cream. Chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and even mango sorbet have been featured in the past.