King of Pops, a gourmet ice-pops business whose roots lie in the Atlanta street-food scene, started a branch in Asheville this year. Gabriella Oviedo, who graduated from Georgia State University, moved to Asheville in part because she wanted to bring the brand of frozen, all-natural treats to our streets and farmers markets.
For a while, Oviedo was traveling to Atlanta to gather the handmade pops, including flavors like chocolate and sea salt, ginger-cantaloupe and peaches and cream. Now, she’s making her business into an all-local affair. Oviedo recently opened a small Asheville-based production facility, in the wholesale kitchen of local hummus-maker and caterer Roots, located in the River Arts District. There, she juices locally grown fruits and cuts herbs to make her seasonal pops. Recently she’s developed flavors like watermelon-mojito, blackberry-mint and blueberry-lemongrass.
But don’t expect a fancy, state-of-the-art pops factory, says Oviedo. “I basically just have my Popsicle machine, my immersion blender, a couple of tables, stuff to cut up my fruit and a machine to seal my bags — that’s pretty much it. It’s totally bare-bones, but it’s exactly enough space for what I need for myself and another person to work.”
Oviedo also gets a big smile on her face when she talks about having the opportunity to pick her own berries soon — next week she’ll visit Aardvark Farms in Burnsville where she’ll load up on pesticide-free blueberries. “I’m really excited to pick my own fruit. The only thing better would be if I were growing it myself,” she says. “It’s very rewarding.”
Oviedo says that the only pops that she will not make on her own are those that contain dairy because a special permit is required to process them. The milk used for her dairy-based pops has a 65 percent cream content, “so it’s extra creamy,” she says. The dairy is purchased from a Georgia-based farm that specializes in hormone-free organic milk.
“I could have kept getting all of my pops from Atlanta,” says Oviedo. “But I felt like I was doing a disservice to myself and the community here — a disservice to the people that have supported me.” Oviedo says that, even though the work requires quite a bit more of her time, it’s worth it. “It’s allowing me to be a part of the magic of making the pops,” she says. “Finding the fruit, talking to the farmers, making and selling them to people — being a part of the entire cycle. One of the main reasons that I wanted to move here was the community, and now I feel like I’m able to be a part of the bigger picture.”
Find King of Pops Tuesdays at the West Asheville Tailgate Market, Wednesdays at both the Montford Farmers Market and the French Broad Food Co-op Market, Fridays at the Riceville Market in east Asheville, Sundays at the Greenlife Tailgate Market and Thursday through Sunday on S. Market Street at the edge of Pack Square Park (to benefit all the kids at Splashville).
Find King of Pops Asheville on Facebook, or follow @KingofPopsAVL on Twitter.