Pop Art

Pop Art

As popsicle weather blazes forth, Victoria DeCristofaro, owner of PopCentric Gourmet Ice Pops, has options—35 or so at any given time, from a repertoire of about 70 total. In her cheery North Haven shop, freezers display both vegan (fruit-based) and “creamy” (dairy-based) popsicles for $4 a pop. Customer favorites including Cookies and Cream, Coconut Avocado and Fruit Salad (grapefruit juice with pieces of fruit) are usually in stock along with rotating and seasonal choices like the red-white-and-blue Patriotic pop as well as patron requests like Pink Lemonade (colored with hibiscus) and a Tiktok-inspired Fruity Pebbles flavor.

DeCristofaro says many of her customers “have been with me from the beginning” in 2015, when she began selling at farmers’ markets, and when the owner of Tre Scalini, where she’d worked for 25 years, was letting her use the restaurant’s kitchen. Between markets, “I was basically meeting moms in parking lots on the corner because I didn’t have an actual location that they could go to.” After that first summer, she renovated the storefront where PopCentric is still located, in a small strip including a driving school, clock and computer repair shops, a scalp treatment store and a space where Burning Peel Pizza Truck’s owner plans to open a pizzeria and deli.

sponsored by

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

Location wasn’t the only adjustment DeCristofaro made as her business grew. Because her children were “picky” eaters, she initially emphasized health and “sneaking vegetables into food.” While some of those original flavors—like Mango Carrot Orange and Strawberry Beet—remain on the menu, DeCristofaro found that people were much more likely to request the likes of Cookies and Cream or Nutella. Everybody wants to be healthy, she says, “but then they go and order indulgent,” so she now tries to make pops “for everyone.”

Whether fruit- or dairy-based, all the popsicles I brought home felt like an indulgence. My teen samplers described Cookies and Cream as ice cream-like but not too sweet. My personal favorite was the Coconut Avocado. DeCristofaro’s knack for combining ingredients that enhance each other was also deliciously evident in Mango Grapefruit, Pineapple Ginger and Strawberry Lemon pops. These flavors were consistent with DeCristofaro’s love of experimenting as well as her more recent emphasis on “expanding your palate,” which she feels is especially helpful for picky eaters.

Picky eater or not, you can expand your own palate by popping into PopCentric, ordering delivery from Grubhub or having DeCristofaro cater your event, where customized popsicle sticks and menus, including boozy pops—Caramel Bourbon Latte, Watermelon Mojito, White and Red Sangrias—are also an option. Pooches can get a taste, too, with a Pup Pop featuring “dog biscuit crumbles” and an edible stick.

But PopCentric is really about treats for us humans—even or rather especially as we enter the dog days of summer.

PopCentric Gourmet Ice Pops
55 State St, North Haven (map)
Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 1pm-6pm
(203) 492-9411
Website | Instagram | GrubHub

Written and photographed by Heather Jessen.

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