For Rhonda Ryan and Suzanah Raffield, popsicles are personal. “We both had grandmothers who canned and froze stuff, so that idea of saving the season goes deep with us,” says Rhonda. Her grandmother was particularly prolific in her preserving. While visiting her grandfather after her grandmother’s passing, Rhonda found bags of peas in the freezer and Mason jars full of jam in the pantry. “That was a year after she died, but she was still feeding us,” Rhonda recalls fondly.
The idea for Bold City Pops occurred during a trip to Birmingham, Ala. where the two women stumbled upon Steel City Pops, a company inspired to create ingredient-driven popsicles by a Mexican paletas stand in Nashville. Realizing they could take advantage of Florida’s vibrant, native flavors, they decided to bring the farm-to-freezer pop concept to the Bold New City of the South. Figuring out what to call their new business from there was pretty easy.
Around this time, several other regional pop-makers opened shop, forcing them to be innovative in their approach to winning over customers. For her part, Rhonda pulled from her experience as a bartender in her younger days to develop many of the recipes while Suzanah made it a point to attend as many events as possible and speak with every customer who purchased a pop.
“When we hand our customers a popsicle, it’s not just a popsicle,” says Suzanah. “It’s Rhonda getting up at 5 a.m. to process strawberries, it’s the farmer in Starke, it’s her grandmother’s canning stories. It’s all of that. And that makes a difference.”
Rhonda and Suzanah’s knack for building flavors and telling stories earned them an invitation to participate in the Desert Trip Culinary Experience in Indio, Cal. (a sister-festival to Coachella featuring the likes of The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan). Transporting frozen products across the country isn’t cheap, but this was an opportunity they couldn’t refuse. They strapped a generator to the top of Pearl, the camper Suzanah’s father built for them, and stopped every few hours along the way to check on their fragile, frozen merchandise.
It was during this trip that the ladies realized they had reached a crossroads. While they would happily pack up the family and drive to the desert to serve pops, they realized that distributing their product cross-country would not only be prohibitively expensive but downright impossible without sacrificing the sense of community and the relationships that define the brand.
So, they set out to create something new that would not compromise their dedication to celebrating the local. In keeping with their theme of preserving the seasons, Rhonda and Suzanah experimented with dehydrating the ingredients in their favorite ice pop recipes to create CAMP Craft Cocktail Mixes, a product they can affordably ship across the country without fear of it turning into a sticky mess. While this new venture will allow them to share their passion with a wider audience, Bold City Pops will always be about Northeast Florida community and relationships, as they continue to support local farmers and collaborate with like-minded small businesses. Sustainable entrepreneurship is what is transforming this region, and Bold City Pops’ pioneering attitude is an inspiration.
Bold City Pops recently collaborated with Wicked Barley Brewing Company to create ice pops from their mead, a concept we think is wicked awesome. For more info visit boldcitypops.com and wickedbarley.com