Ice Cream 101

Ice pops made of just colored sugar water: many children grow up on these tasty summer treats. Fudge pops, Popsicles brand treats shaped like a rocket on the Fourth of July, ice cream bars, soft serve ice cream miami beach, the list goes on. Summer or not, 90% of U.S. households regularly indulge in a sweet, frozen treat. 40% of Americans will eat ice cream at least once during a two-week period, which is just below coffee consumption [47%]. The United States leads the world in ice cream consumption, average 26 liters of ice cream per person consumed per year. Overall sales for the ice cream industry in the United States has remained around $10 billion annually since 2010. And while the United States exports 60,000 metric tons of ice cream every year to Canada and Mexico, there are sweet frozen treats that are unique to each of these countries.

Many Americans grew up on ice pops made of just colored sugar water or the traditional chocolate covered ice cream pop on a stick. At some point, someone tried a strawberry paleta chock full of real fruit and told you it was the best frozen treat they’ve ever had. Until you try one for yourself, you can’t possibly know what we mean when we say that the Mexican-style popsicle is a revelation. What is paleta you may be asking? Paletas de dulce are the healthier alternative to desserts and will give you a unique dessert experience at the same time.

Paletas de dulce contain natural, fresh ingredients, like real fruit juice and chunks of fruit you can see in the frozen popsicle treat, including pineapple, strawberry, kiwi, mango and banana. It’s no wonder paletas de dulce have been described as “summer on a stick” by many people who have tried the delectable treat both in the U.S. and abroad.

While the taste is a sure-fire way to get your attention, the origins of the paletas de dulce are less clear. Some think servants fetched ice from the Popocatépetl volcano near Mexico City for Aztec leaders who would mix it with fresh fruits. But according to Eat Mexico, these sweet treats actually came about in the early 1800s. Mexico was in the midst of celebrating its independence, meaning the taxes on ice (via Spain) had come to an end. Citizens could afford it and were able to experiment with ice as a treat, adding fresh fruit to create something delicious and cold to beat the heat down south.

La Michoacana, a family-run business based in Tocumbo, Michoacán, first made ice cream before adding paletas to their growing list of frozen treats. Their popular milk-based paletas include a wide range of flavors including coffee, coconut, chocolate, cheesecake and more.

The icy treats eventually spread to the United States, and they were extremely popular in states along the U.S. and Mexico border.

These gourmet popsicle shops are springing up where makers can play with new combinations of flavors, adding seasonings and vegetables among the already-existing fruity blends. Water-based non-dairy varieties come in flavors like tamarind and soursop, guava, watermelon and cantaloupe, mango, strawberry, lemon and grape with cucumber and chili powder. Paletas de dulce are also dipped in chocolate and rolled in crushed nuts, graham cracker crumbs, crushed wafers and more for added texture and flavor. The options are endless with these healthy, sweet treats.

Some people who excel in this sweet art are taking to the streets and selling their creations from carts. As more and more people continue to fall for paletas and their healthy but sweet draw-in, their popularity has soared. Fortunately, paletas are super easy to make, so once your weather gets hot, get out the heavy-duty popsicle molds and mix up a batch of your own. With some fresh fruit, water and lime juice, you can whip up a batch of basic but tasty treats for enjoyment at your home during any season. Invite your friends over for a paletas de dulce party, have a contest to see who comes up with the best combination of flavors. Adding those sweet and texturing extras, like chile powder, mint leaves, almonds, crackers, sugar or coconut milk will make you the next paletas de dulce connoisseur!

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