The Frozen Mistake That Made a Fortune

Frozen dessert on a stick is a wonderful way to beat the heat, even if it drips sticky sugar all over you. But where did Popsicles come from?

The popular origin story for this frozen treat goes as follows: In 1905 in San Francisco, 11-year-old Frank Epperson accidentally left a wooden stirrer in a glass of soda powder and water on his porch one freezing night. The next morning, Epperson woke up to discover he had invented the Popsicle — something he initially named the Epsicle, a combination of his own name and “icicle.” Incredibly, it wasn’t until 1923 that it dawned on him that this could be a money-spinner, and he changed the name to Popsicle, reflecting that it was essentially frozen soda pop (early adverts billed it “a drink on a stick”). Fortunately, no one had a similar brain wave in the almost 20 years Epperson sat on it. But, despite patenting the Popsicle in 1924, he couldn’t quite break even and sold his idea to the Joe Lowe Corporation — which went on to make a fortune from the frozen treat.

Critics found problems with the origin story, both in the details and in the fact that frozen treats on a stick had been around for decades. But no matter, Epperson coined the word "Popsicle," and to this day it's a trademark worth suing over. There are other milestones in the history of the Popsicle, which you can read at Ozy.


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I'm working on a similar invention. I made a huge batch of borscht--too much to eat in a day. So I froze meal-sized amounts. That got me thinking: could I freeze borscht into popsicle molds? Dip the frozen borscht-sicles in sour cream and there's a new summer treat.
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