S weet P’s takes Ice Pops…gourmet
By Brian P. Sharp
Summertime holds a lot of memories for me: summers at the farm in Michigan picking cherries right off the tree, playing with my cousins on the white sand beaches along Lake Leelanau and Lake Michigan, and cookouts by the lake. Times were simpler…or so it seemed. At least to a kid, an ice pop could save the day…or the night.
Well, I’m not a kid anymore but I have to tell you an ice pop saved the day! Not just any ice pop, but the new, improved, adult gourmet kind of ice pop that can be found at Sweet P’s in Kettering. All of us realize just how hot and dry our summer has been. Well, I was watching a Dayton Dutch Lions U20 game earlier this summer, and afterward – nearly exhausted from the heat – my sister-in-law mentioned getting an ice pop at Sweet P’s. I thought, “really…an ice pop?” I needed something more substantial, but I was simply too hot to argue. So, off we went to the corner of Far Hills and Stroop Roads where Sweet P’s is: a small – very small – storefront with two freezer cases and a blackboard menu. I was not convinced. I started reviewing the choices of the day: mango, morning grapefruit and even lavender-blueberry to name a few. So, I decided to try a mango.
Well, besides the fact that there is real fruit frozen into this little gem, the flavor is rich. I took a seat on the bench located inside the storefront, quickly finished the mango ice pop and had to have more. Needless to say…I am hooked! I had to know more.
The ice pop shop is owned by Pam Bertke. Bertke worked in the mortgage and graphics industries and decided enough was enough. In the spring of 2010, after resigning her position as vice-president at a financial institution, Bertke began looking for something that would take her from behind a desk and allow her to express her creative nature.
“The mortgage industry kind of went south and I just tired of it,” Bertke said. “I was tired of being behind a desk and I wanted to go back to doing something creative – something fresh.”
As luck would have it, a dear, lifelong friend approached her with an idea to make and sell ice pops in the Dayton area. They talked about it for months, until the idea of opening an ice pop shop of her own seemed to occupy more and more of her time and her thoughts. After doing a great deal of research – and playing off the idea of the Mexican frozen treats called paletas – she decided to open Sweet P’s.
“We spent about eight or 10 months working on recipes, preparing our business plan and seeing what we could do,” Bertke said. “At the last minute, she just decided it wasn’t something she thought she could do at this time. So, we had a little talk and I said ‘I’m going to go ahead and proceed.’”
Would people be as excited about the fresh, vibrant colors and unique flavors of handcrafted ice pops as she had become? After numerous road trips to sample ice pops and months of creating recipes, Sweet P’s Handcrafted Ice Pops sprang to life in Kettering. It’s a feel-good place where everyone is a kid again
There are both water-based and dairy-based pops. Both are fantastic. She does have some regular flavors and some “visiting” flavors as she calls them in both types.
“It kind of rotates around – seasonal flavors, things I can get fresh,” Bertke said of the visiting flavors. “I try to get the freshest produce I can. It determines what I’m going to make. I shop at farmer’s markets, some groceries stores. It just depends on where I can find the best things for what I’m looking for.”
These are not just flavorings, these are actual ingredients worked into a batter that is then frozen into bars or ice pops for the discriminating palate.
“With the fruit based pops, everything starts from fresh fruit,” Bertke said. “Everything is hand juiced, hand pureed – so it all is fresh. You can’t imagine the difference in taste from that. I use organic cane sugar when I can. There are some recipes where I use regular white cane sugar. I use filtered water. There’s no an artificial color, flavors or preservatives – no corn syrup. My dairy products I use whole milk and cream. I use premium chocolate.”
These frozen delights keep popping up around the area. Sweet P’s were found at the Dayton Heritage Festival and have been a regular at the Second Street Market. Additionally, Sweet P’s can be found at Dayton Dutch Lions home games and at RiverScape MetroPark in Café Velo.
So…you must give them a try. Ice pops aren’t just for kids, these are the perfect addition to any summer event or simply just to keep on hand to impress guests. At only $2.50 each they are a great dessert…and drip guards are available so no worries!
Who wants to join me for a gourmet ice pop? See you at Sweet P’s.
Sweet P’s is located at 22 W. Stroop Road in Kettering in the Castle Hills shopping center. 937-985-7086. For more information, visit online at www.sweetp-icepops.com.
Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com