While Manhattan is home to its fair share of strange vehicles, it’s hard not to notice when a kelly green Citroën truck from the flower power era starts making appearances on the streets of the West Village. The vehicle, dubbed Popitbaby, features video screens, promotional punch cards, and slick packaging, and sells flavorful ice pops designed to make people reconsider how to cool down in the concrete jungle. It was a personal craving that helped get the wheels rolling on this operation, which made its debut on June 22.
“It all started with the watermelon-mint,” says co-owner Christopher Twele, explaining that he couldn’t find this favorite flavor match in ice pop form. Realizing there was an opportunity to explore simple but overlooked combinations to fill a void in the market, Twele and his partner Jackie Walsh decided to switch careers, giving up life in advertising to pursue mobile ice entrepreneurship and rolling out the Popitbaby truck, the mantra “happy, fresh, smart” guiding them in their decisions.
Next came the idea for a melon-based pop, a flavor that Twele recalled seeing available in juice boxes at newsstands on his travels to Athens but could not locate back in New York. The ability to spot potential for pops in other products–like the Thai iced tea and iced coffee–paved the way for additional experimentation. Like any growing brand, customer feedback, along with a little gut instinct–this is the food biz–have helped Popitbaby make several important decisions. After a patron suggested looking into a cucumber-based flavor, Twele began hashing out a plan for a recipe. And Twele isn’t worried about testing unsuccessful flavors. “Nothing is the end of the world,” he says, preferring to see what resonates best with a growing clientele and making the appropriate alterations.
Nor is he worried about permanent space. “We’re the ultimate pop-up shop,” Twele says of his mobile setup, which currently calls West 11th and Bleecker Street its go-to spot for the time being. And though this baby has a lot of growing up to do, everything about the operation is, for lack of a better term, chill.
For updates on new flavors, additional locations, and when celebrities like Adam Sandler might be grabbing a pop or two, feel free to roll with Popitbaby on Twitter.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 9, 2013