The Making of a Pumpkin Pie Pop with People's Pops

Photo by FHL Left: Joel Horowitz and David Carrell, co-owners of People’s Pops, stand at the entrance of their kitchen in Brooklyn. Right: Specialty pumpkin-pie pops with whipped cream are available on the High Line through October 27. Photo by Friends of the High Line

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.

Photo by FHL Joel comes to the Union Square Greenmarket once a week to find special ingredients for his pops, such as sugar-spice pumpkins to use in a fall harvest pop. Photo by Friends of the High Line

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.

Photo by Rowa LeeJoel returns from the Union Square Greenmarket with fresh produce in hand and headed towards the People’s Pops kitchen in Brooklyn. Photo by Friends of the High Line

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?

Photo by Rowa Lee David sits on the roof of the former Pfizer building, the new home of the People’s Pops kitchen. Photo by Friends of the High Line
Photo by FHLJoel chops sugar-spice pumpkins and kobucha to roast and caramelize. Photo by Friends of the High Line

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.

Photo by Rowa LeeLeft: Joel removes a hot sheet tray of perfectly roasted squashes. Right: Doesn’t this spoonful of pureed roasted squash look delicious? Photo by Friends of the High Line
Photo by Rowa LeeLeft: The roasted pumpkin squash puree is poured into metal pop trays for freezing. Right: Some of the many sticks that will go into People’s Pops frozen treats. Photo by Friends of the High Line
EnlargePhoto of Friends of the High Line
Photo by Rowa LeeLeft: Joel presenting a sheet tray of just-made pumpkin-pie pops available on the High Line. Right: Joel playfully holds up two pumpkin-pie pops – the whipped cream creates a cool marble effect. Photo by Friends of the High Line

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.

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