Prepping for Heat With an Icy Treat


By Justin Swanson | LB Indy


Modern Pop founder Julie Podolec expects healthy popsicles will appeal to summer crowds.
Modern Pop founder Julie Podolec expects healthy popsicles will appeal to summer crowds.

Confronted with the timeless, maternal distress of assuaging her infant’s teething, Julie Podolec concocted a functional, non-medicinal solution to her young son’s pains. She made popsicles from fresh, pureed fruit.

Podolec soon realized her blender bowl held a refreshing rethinking of a basic stalwart of Americana. “It’s ‘a new twist on an old classic’,” she says, quoting the motto of her fledgling company, Modern Pop.

Having found some success with her lone customer, now a toddler, Podolec, 29, began experimenting with her homemade popsicles adding fresh herbs and ultimately devising some 50 different flavors. With the intent of commercializing her product, Podolec relied on friends and family as taste testers to narrow down her flavors to five: strawberry-basil, watermelon-cilantro, raspberry-ginger, blackberry-limeade, and mango-mint.

Starting June 1, Modern Pop frozen treats at $3 each will be available at Pizza Lounge in Laguna Beach and Bristol Farms by late June, dispensed from small freezers. Outfitted in a custom apron with retro styling, Podolec herself will man the helm of a deployable popsicle stand starting Saturday, June 15 on the patio of the Pottery Place, at Brooks Street and Coast Highway, Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. throughout the summer.

Will ice pops draw passersby off the street? “It’s one of those things where you won’t know until it’s here,” says Francesca Wernisch, a manager of the decor shop Jack Thomas, which shares the Pottery Place patio with Sapphire restaurant. “But it seems like more traffic should be a good thing.”

Too, the pop stand allows for catering.

Modern Pop’s ingredients are California grown. The recipe lacks dairy products and is sweetened with raw agave syrup or organic honey. Each pop is only 60 calories. And Podolec’s treats reveal their origin, an aesthetic missing from bigger freezer-treat brands.

“You see what you’re eating,” says Podolec, noting that for the customer, the visual appeal reinforces its health consciousness. “I feel comfortable giving it to my 16-month old. It’s just fruit.”

Indeed, many more have discovered the delights of Modern Pop. The popsicles underwent a trial run beginning last October at Laguna Beach’s Thalia Beach Café, where they were initially manufactured. The task now is outsourced to a commercial kitchen that allows for 1,000 popsicles to be made a day.1.2 popsicle IMG_9531

“I don’t think she thought they’d be as successful as they have been,” says Thalia owner Breshkai Berlin. “Not a day goes by when somebody doesn’t ask about Modern Pop.”

Podolec moved to Laguna Beach four years ago from New York with her husband Brad, 35, who was pursuing a job in finance. Founding and managing Modern Pop is a joint effort by the couple. While she formulated flavors and runs the stand and its catering and marketing, Mr. Podolec is responsible for the financial aspects such as accounting and funding, as well as the layout of the website. Podolec, who worked in retail until the birth of her son, declined to divulge start-up costs.

Podolec says she is hoping Modern Pop evokes nostalgia for childhood as it appeals to kid and adult consumers.

“It’s a unique and healthy dessert,” explains Podolec, who expressed confidence each location should find customers. “I think the pops will sell themselves. It’s pretty easy in the summer. You can grab a snack and run to the beach.”

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