At last, after a whole season in the field, fall crops start surfacing – apples, winter squash, and our personal favorite, pumpkins. Inspired by the autumn harvest, we headed into Brooklyn to show you how People's Pops makes their celebrated pumpkin-pie pops. These small-batch pops taste precisely like pumpkin pie on a stick. They’re addictive too, and you can taste them for yourself on the High Line through October 27. Follow us after the jump to see step-by-step how they’re made, and learn why sourcing with the seasons is important to Joel Horowitz, co-founder of People’s Pops.
Joel, like many of our High Line Food vendors, is committed to buying produce at Union Square Greenmarket and from local farms within 250 miles. The quality of ingredients is superb. Joel gets many of his herbs – such as peppermint, basil, and lemon thyme – from Stokes Farm at the greenmarket. The herbs are wonderfully fragrant and lush in color; one notices what makes them above-grade immediately. People’s Pops is known for its distinctive use of herbs, crafting popular flavors like cantaloupe-peppermint and apple-lavender.
During the peak of the season – May through August – Joel buys anywhere from 12,000 to 18,000 pounds of fresh fruit. The decision to partner with a new farm is primarily determined by the answer to one question: how great is the fruit? It’s got to be pretty darn good. Over the years, People’s Pops has developed close relationships with many farmers. Joel gets his strawberries, plums, apples, and peaches from Red Jacket Orchards and his raspberries and blackberries from Phillips Farms. Terhune Farms provides him delicious rhubarb for strawberry-rhubarb pops.
The farmers flash-freeze the fruit at its prime ripeness, a process that benefits both the farmers and Joel. Flash-freezing ensures ultimate freshness, so the farmers don't worry about spoiling inventory, and Joel is guaranteed delicious fruit.
Joel also gets sugar-spice pumpkins and kobocha from the market for the exquisite pumpkin-pie pops. Indeed, with a name like sugar-spice, how can one resist tasting a pumpkin-pie pop?
We headed into Brooklyn to find out what makes these pumpkin-pie pops irresistible. Inside the former Pfizer building, the pumpkins are roasted until perfectly caramelized, then pureed. Joel and his staff mix in delectable spices, some coming from a specialty spice shop in the East Village. When taking your first bite, you’ll notice hints of ginger, cinnamon, allspice, clove, and nutmeg. The cinnamon is easily among the best we’ve tasted. Then the pops are frozen and packaged. The method of freezing greatly influences taste: the faster the freezing process, the smaller the ice crystals. This, in turn, means the pops’ fruit and spice flavors are pronounced. People’s Pops has mastered this process with a freezing time of 18 minutes.
When they aren’t making pumpkin-pie pops in celebration of the fall harvest, People's Pops offers other equally tasty flavors. Pop flavors rotate with the seasons. At the start of the High Line Food season in the spring, you’ll enjoy strawberry-chai and raspberry-basil. As the days get hotter, apricot-lavender and honeydew-shiso are favorites. Then, when the days begin to finally cool off, you must try concord grape and roasted plum with yogurt and tarragon.
Knowing where their fruit comes from and sourcing ingredients with the changing seasons is at the core of People’s Pops food philosophy. Being able to pick up the phone and call their farmers is an added perk. Now that you know the story behind People’s Pops, come out to the High Line before we wrap up our food season to have a taste. As they say, the proof is in the…pops.
People's Pops is located on the High Line at West 15th Street. It is open daily from 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM through October 27.
High Line Visual Media Fellow Amelia Krales took this series of photographs at People's Pops facilities in Brooklyn.