At the end of the 1960s, technology was advancing at a breathtaking pace; changing the way we lived, giving us hope for the future. No, we’re not referring to the Apollo space program. We’re talking about the far more significant invention of the stick-less popsicle. You probably know these colorful treats by one of two names, Fla-Vor-Ice, or the more common Otter Pops.
The year was 1969, and much like the space race, two competitors raced to introduce these frozen marvels to the public. Jel Set created Fla-Vor-Ice and National Pax responded with Otter Pops. And, honestly, with the exception of the packaging, both products were virtually indistinguishable. Both consist of a combination of water, sugar, flavoring and vivid artificial colors. Each product is pasteurized and packaged into clear plastic tubes and they both come in six flavors. Otter Pops even assigned a character to each flavor: Louie-Bloo Raspberry, Strawberry Short Kook, Sir Isaac Lime, Alexander the Grape, Little Orphan Orange, and Rip Van Lemon, which was later replaced by the inferior Poncho Punch.
Both products are sold in liquid form, just waiting to be placed in the freezer, where they quickly transform into flavorful rods of yummy goodness. Snip the top off with a pair of scissors (or a strong set of teeth) and sip and gnaw to your heart’s content. And, while some prefer their pops frozen solid, others connoisseurs know that a little patience pays off. Let an Otter Pop thaw just slightly, then squish the icy mass in your fingers to create a slushy version that you can drink from the tube. On a hot summer day, pure bliss. Some even use Otter Pops in the place of ice cubes. The possibilities are endless.
In 1996, some 37 years after their introduction, the two competing products finally joined hands in friendship, when Jel Set acquired the Otter Pops brand. Despite the new-found camaraderie, however, there was also a major change to the product, one that forever altered their cosmic chemical flavor – the introduction of real fruit juice. While they may be healthier now, an inclusion of nutrients somehow makes junk food slightly less fun.
Some things are invented to change mankind, others to simply provide a few moments of happiness. Both are important to our quality of life. And while Otter Pops may not have saved the world; in their own way, they have made it a little more special – especially on a hot summer day. If you have fond memories of these iconic frozen snacks, we welcome all of your thoughts in our comments section, as we tip our hats to a true American classic.