Great Moments in San Francisco Food History: Popsicles

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San Francisco's coldest night ever was in 1932, when it plummeted to 27° F in the hills. It wasn't quite that bitter in the city on the fated night in 1905 when 11-year-old Frank Epperson accidentally invented the popsicle by leaving his powdered soda and water drink, which had a stick in it for stirring, outside overnight. But the air was icy enough to provide a result that would later spark a business idea for a Thirtysomething Epperson, who had grown up to slang frozen lemonade at Neptune Beach in Alameda.

After a brief flirtation with calling his novelty an Epsicle, he patented Popsicle in 1924. Epperson flipped his business quickly, selling it just a year after to New York's Joe Lowe Company (which itself eventually ended up a part of Good Humor). Three years later, more than 60 million Popsicles had been sold, according to Popsicle's Web site (which also claims that Epperson was paid royalties for the sales). Epperson even inspired author Don L. Wulffson to title his children's book The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle: And Other Surprising Stories about Inventions.

80-plus years since its birth, the handmade tradition of the frozen treat continues in San Francisco at Bi-Rite Creamery in the Mission District, which offers its own remixes of popsicles in blood orange, concord grape, lemon raspberry, lime blackberry, mango, pineapple with mint, satsuma tangerine and strawberry flavors. —Tamara Palmer

P.S. I'm no inventor, but I discovered during one brutally hot summer stay in Brooklyn that Vitamin Water's Revive (the purple stuff) makes for awesome homemade popsicles. Thanks, Frank.


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