Alum chills out in the River Market with Le Pops Gourmet Ice Lollies
Who hasn’t enjoyed an ice lollipop or ice cream cone at one point or another? If you’ve ever visited River Market Hall in Little Rock, then you’ve probably seen Le Pops Ice Lollies. Started by Little Rock-native Laurie Harrison in August 2011, Le Pops is a company dedicated to making natural, hand-crafted, gourmet ice lollies and supporting local farmers’ markets by using all natural ingredients whenever possible.
“These are not grocery store pops,” Harrison said. “I use only fresh, natural, high-quality ingredients. No artificial colors, flavors, or stabilizers.” Le Pops’ signs, boasting their ice lollies as “hand made in the natural state,” pridefully refer to Arkansas’ slogan, mirroring the company’s mission statement.
Laurie was inspired to start her business in 2010 while she and her family were on a Florida trip.
“We visited a popsicle shop because our daughter loves popsicles,” she said. “I had an avocado pop. I love to cook. My husband says I didn’t get through the pop before I proclaimed that I was going to start my own pop shop.”
After her epiphany, Laurie spent the next 14 months working on recipes for flavors, for which family and friends were happy to be “taste-test volunteers.” After her recipes were perfected, Laurie was ready to offer her hand-made ice lollies at the market — The Little Rock Farmers’ Market, that is, where most of the ingredients come from.
Some of the ingredients used at Le Pops consist of fruit produce: cucumber, peppers, corn, and herbs such as cilantro, basil and mint. “I also use Diamond Bear Brewery’s root beer and coffee beans from RoZark Hills Coffee Roasterie in Rose Bud, Ark.,” she said. Le Pops offers about 40 flavors to the public, while other flavors are experimented with during the winter months. The most popular winter flavors have been Salted Caramel, Pecan, Eggnog and Hot Pops. Laurie came up with the idea of Hot Pops to combat the decreased business ice lollie vendors faces in winter months.
“You pick a pop [Salted Caramel, Raspberry Cream, Chocolate Marvel, Mexican Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, or Pecan] and stir it into either homemade hot cocoa or hot vanilla cream to create a warm, delicious beverage.”
While customers lean more toward traditional flavors and warm drinks during the winter, the options are seemingly endless year-round. Summer favorites are Salted Caramel, Strawberry, Watermelon, Root Beer Float, Pineapple Cilantro, Grapefruit Mint, Lemon Drop, Strawberry Mango, Chocolate Marvel, Chocolate Mint, and Cantaloupe.
“Our more adventurous customers enjoy Cucumber Jalapeno, Mango Chili, Lemon Buttermilk, Raspberry Basil, Blueberry Cardamom, and Mexican Chocolate.”
But the flavors are natural no matter the season, as Harrison says it trumps the artificial, “which tastes fake and can leave you with an unpleasant aftertaste.”
Le Pops is not just a locally owned business: Harrison believes in buying locally too; something not always seen in today’s society, when it’s usually cheaper and more convenient to buy premade ingredients.
“We strongly believe in buying locally and we strive to do so whenever possible,” she said. “Locally grown food tastes better, is more nutritious, and supports local farmers and our community. There is a greater diversity in what is grown or produced. We like to know where our produce and other products come from and we benefit from the relationships we build in the process.”
She also believes that buying locally keeps money in the community, creates and sustains jobs, and conserves energy usage by reducing transportation.
Although Le Pops can always be found at their home-base location in River Market Hall, the vendor can also be seen at state events. The company has served countless customers at Wildwood Park and during October festivities, such as HarvestFest, the Food Truck Festival and the World Cheese Dip Competition.
But they’re not finished yet.
Le Pops is working on finding two seasonal locations that will open from May through September, as well as expanding their wholesale business. The treat-maker’s wholesale accounts include the Little Rock Athletic Club, the Little Rock Racquet Club, Hillcrest Artisan Meats, Boulevard Bread Co. in the Heights, Argenta Market, Pizza Cafe and All Aboard Restaurant.
Le Pops can also be found online at the company’s website and Facebook page, where Harrison keeps up-to-date by personally communicating with customers.
“We post our flavors, pictures of our customers, and promotions [on Facebook],” she said. “We also frequently post a trivia question with a free pop for the winner. That’s been lots of fun.”
Even the entrepreneur herself said it’s hard not to continue taste-testing her product.
“It’s hard to choose. I like the ice pop flavors such as Strawberry Basil, Blackberry Lavender, and Avocado,” Harrison said. “My husband likes the chocolate flavors, Coffee & Cream, and Salted Caramel.”
Laurie has also proposed running a promotion especially for UALR students: 50 cents off any pop with his or her student ID.
To find other locations offering Le Pops gourmet ice lollies, look at their flavors, or to learn about the company, visit LePops.com.
“Our pops are exponentially better than any commercially produced pop,” Harrison said. “Even though they have sugar (except our Pure Sunshine), I would describe them as a healthy treat.”