With the welcoming of summer comes toasty temperatures and shining rays of sun. In New England, it can get hot quickly. For those seeking a healthier alternative to traditional ice cream, business owner Julie Tuman brings Crooked Stick Pops to not only her home base of Easthampton, but to events around the local area.
With a location in the Eastworks building, Tuman and her team serve up ice pops to the community with a healthy twist. Ingredients such as herbs and fresh, local fruit go into the many ice pop offerings found both on Pleasant Street and at places like farmer’s markets and festivals.
“It was a multifaceted thing. I was in a work position that I wasn’t really enjoying, so I was looking for additional work and didn’t see anything that appealed to me. I wanted to work somewhere local, but a lot of local positions require you to work in an office, which I didn’t want to do,” Tuman explained.
Tuman had been working in the international education field. While she enjoyed the idea of working, she wanted to find a career where she could work for herself. “I’m a bit of a workaholic. I love working. People were telling me if I was going to work so hard, I should work for myself. In order to have a business you run, you have to love it.”
Tuman and her husband were inspired by a small business in St. Augustine, Florida. “My husband and I have a family friend in St. Augustine who had a popsicle shop and we’d go sometimes up to six times a week. They were just great,” Tuman explained.
Enjoying treats is one of Tuman’s favorite things to do, but she explained to Go Local that sweets are not her thing. “I’m not a huge sweets eater, but I love treats. It was my husband’s idea to start a popsicle business up here. He said, ‘you should do the popsicle business,’ and I said, ‘I’m stealing your dream’ but he said he would never do it,” Tuman said.
With an idea and a passion for pops, Tuman took to the kitchen to start creating. “It was blueberry season and we picked a bunch of blueberries and I started playing with different recipes,” Tuman shared.
After experimenting with recipes, Tuman took the jump and started Crooked Stick Pops. “I’m a frugal person and I was able to get what I needed for my business without taking out a loan. There was a risk that I would lose my savings, but I was willing to take that leap,” Tuman said.
Tuman has continued to experiment with pop flavors using fresh and local ingredients, including an abundance of plums that was donated by a local farm.
“My kitchen is my happy place. There’s this nice ambient hum from the freezer and it smells good. I create a lot differently than other foodies because I don’t like to experiment and waste food. I create pop flavors in my head. I have this flavor of what I want in my mind’s eyes. I create the flavor and know what I’m going for. I’ll make a very small batch and tweak it until I get it right,” Tuman shared.
Tuman said that she is happy to be a part of the Eastworks building, housing a number of growing businesses. “It’s so nice to be in a community of people doing their own thing,” Tuman shared.
Crooked Stick Pops serves a variety of flavors including chocolate banana, coconut iced coffee and peach cheesecake. Tuman shared that strawberry lemonade, orange cream and Vietnamese coffee are among the shop’s most popular offerings.
“It depends on the pop eater. Some people are in the mindset of ‘oh if she’s offering it, it must be good.’ Our oddball flavors are getting a lot of attention,” Tuman said.
Tuman said that Crooked Stick Pops rotates between 10-15 pop flavors daily. “The other flavors really rotate depending on how popular they are and how frequently I’m making them. Once strawberries come in season, we’ll probably have 3-4 strawberry flavors to highlight growing season,” Tuman shared.
While ice pops are available in the grocery store, Tuman said the healthy twist on her offerings make them a good choice. “It’s quite important to me to keep the pops healthy. Since I was young, I was a ‘perimeter of the grocery store’ shopper. I don’t eat a lot of processed foods. I grew up a healthy kid and we didn’t have a lot of processed foods in the home,” Tuman said.
Tuman continued, “Say you want a popsicle in the store, but they have preservatives and water. They put in a lot of garbage and it’s not great for you. I wanted to make the pops as healthy as I could. I don’t do anything that’s dairy or sugar based. We have awesome ice cream in Easthampton, I don’t need to do that.”
Tuman said that she is thankful for the community and her customer base. “I enjoy so much of it. It’s really the community of people that I get to engage with. I didn’t really expect that in starting this business. I wanted to be boots on the ground talking to people. It’s incredibly gratifying to love something and watch people enjoy it. I didn’t realize people would want to go on this journey with me and enjoy my pop business. I call my customers my people,” Tuman said.
Staying environmentally friendly and delicious is what makes Crooked Stick Pops a great place for treats, according to Tuman. “They’re really good. It sounds like a small and simple thing to say, but if people like fruit and don’t like everything too sweet, they’re perfect. You really taste the fruit and the natural herbs. It’s one of those things that are great if you like treats but you’re watching the sugar and calories. I have so little waste. We compost and reuse what we can,” Tuman said.
Stop by Crooked Stick Pops during business hours or check them out at an upcoming event.
The shop is open Wed.-Sat. from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
To find Crooked Stick Pops next stop or to book them for an event, visit crookedstickpops.com
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