A bicycle built for treats and getting hammered in America’s Heartland

by Terry B on September 15, 2010

Fruity freezer pops sold from a bicycle in LA and silky smooth vodka in Indiana, both made with local ingredients, are the subjects of my latest posts on the USA Character Approved Blog.

popcycle-treat-cycle

These days, it seems everything is getting a gourmet makeover. Burgers, cupcakes, s’mores… One of the biggest hits this year is reimagined Popsicles, the iconic brightly colored and flavored summer treat for countless generations (and a fiercely guarded registered trademark of Unilever, as some hapless artisanal frozen treat makers have discovered). And perhaps no one is remaking them as deliciously or selling them as charmingly as Michelle Sallah and John Cassidy.

Together, they are Popcycle Treats. Sarah makes the inventively flavored freezer pops from seasonal produce and some interesting surprises. John peddles the Popcycle Treats as far as he can pedal around the streets of Los Angeles, on the distinctive orange bike he built by hand. (Michelle accompanies him on her own bike and they set up shop together.)

Together is a big part of their business model. When Michelle and John met on a business trip, she was living in LA and he was in New York. Several business and personal trips later, John moved to LA and he and Michelle are dating. Looking for a project they could do together that incorporated her chef background and their love of cycling, Popcycle Treats was born. To Find out more about these tasty treats and how fans find them, check out my USA Character Approved Blog post.

Move over, microbrews—artisanal hard stuff is here

indiana-vodka-heartland

I have to admit, I’ve never been corn’s biggest fan. Corn on the cob is fine once or twice a year, but it’s a definite also ran for me as a vegetable. Now that I’ve sampled what Stuart Hobson can do with it, though, I may have to reconsider.

We met Stuart at the National Restaurant Association’s 2009 show in Chicago, where he was sampling his Indiana Vodka, made from—you guessed it—corn. The vodka was wonderfully crisp and smooth. He makes his vodka in carefully controlled small batches, using Indiana corn. His company, Heartland Distillers, is the first distillery to be licensed in Indiana since Prohibition, but the state has a long, proud history in making spirits.

Stuart is part of a bigger trend right now. Artisanal spirits makers are following in the footsteps of microbreweries, producing handcrafted, small-batch whiskeys, scotches and other hard liquors. To find out more about Stuart and how he produces his award-winning vodka (from corn!), read the USA Character Approved Blog post.

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