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Ring In Summer With Our Definitive Popsicle Power Ranking


popsicle/nestle/target/Uproxx

I was incredibly excited to do a power ranking of popsicles. Then I found out Popsicle is actually a brand and what I thought was a “popsicle” is actually an ice pop. Which sounds incredibly unappetizing. Ice Pop? That’s a trash snack a mean dad would give you. Or a nickname for the mean dad himself. Regardless, I wasn’t happy to find out I’ve been referring to a category of snack by the wrong name. Who knows how close I was to encountering one of those people who just loooooooves to correct people about inane BS like this.

“Oh, you want a band-aid? Don’t you mean an adhesive strip?” Get the f*ck out of here with that nonsense or I will bleed all over you.

The point is, I guess this is technically a power ranking of ice pops, which I will be referring to as “popsicles” for the duration of this article. In a similar vein of full disclosure, I’d like to admit that I taste-tested most of these popsicles while drinking cocktails. A surprisingly appetizing combo. This means sometimes there is a conventional rating from 1-10 and sometimes my rating system is “drunk dude rants for a while.”

Who cares? Summer is here! Let’s do this!

Popsicles Tropicals

Popsicle

I couldn’t find these in a non-sugar free form. They’re terrible. Popsicle Tropicals come in either a Hawaiian Pineapple, Caribbean Fruit Punch, or Tropical Orange flavor and each one is bad. If I had to pick the best, I’d go with the Fruit Punch flavor. And then throw it at you for offering me a sugar-free popsicle without disclosing that fact originally. Also, I have a problem with Popsicle using Orange in two different sets of flavors — how is Tropical Orange different than regular Orange? Is this a California vs Florida-Style Sunny D situation?

Best Enjoyed: By someone who has no concept of what “Tropical” is, because then at least they won’t be as disappointed.

Our Rating: 15 calories per pop. What is that, some kind of joke? Stop this nonsense.

Popsicle Colors

Target

It’s amazing how when you’re young you’ll eat anything. Popsicle Colors, which come in cherry, orange, and grape flavors, are pretty terrible. I use to think these were delicious when I was young, now the only thing redeemable about this popsicle is the bad joke written on the stick. Meaning at its very best, this is simply a means to elicit uncomfortable laughter from a friend who will worry you’ve finally reached your dad-joke phase.

The sweet fruit flavoring quickly gives way to the taste of freezer-burned ice — like what people use to chisel off of their old freezers. Occasionally, the ice pop will become sticky in its packaging, i’m not entirely sure why this happens and what it’s a sign of. Is it old? Did it not freeze quickly enough? Who knows.

Best Enjoyed: As a child. Never eat one of these as an adult.

Our Rating: Why didn’t the rooster go on the roller coaster?

Nestle Push-Ups

Nestle

Part of what made me excited to do this list was the thought of getting paid to eat a Flintstones Push-Up and then I found out that they (whoever) don’t make them anymore. Something that made the original Flintstones Push-Up was that it was sherbet. The new Nestle Push-Up, however, is not sherbet. I don’t know what it is.

The Push-Up, like the RingPop, suffers from a major design flaw. Eating it is a mess, the cheap cardboard packaging doesn’t hold up well when it starts warming up, and you constantly have to push-up the tube so that you aren’t licking the packaging. It’s kind of gross and your last lick ends up being a mix of cheap fruit-flavored ice and plastic.

Best Enjoyed: By a giant who thinks they are applying chapstick. “This chapstick is delicious!” The giant exclaimed. When the giant’s wife Jennifer kissed her husband, she wondered why he’d smeared cheap ice cream all over his lips. “I want a divorce,” she said, coldly, like a Nestle Push-Up fresh out of the freezer.

I’m two drinks in and basically Hemingway.

Our Rating: Yabba Dabba Doo out of 5.

Fudgsicle

Popsicle

If you can find another brand of Fudgesicle get that. The Popsicle brand is just not very good. Just a few years back, these were a pretty solid snack, but they’ve changed the formula since then and it just tastes watery now. It probably has to do with making the snack more health conscious — because the box proudly states “100 Calories” and if you’ve ever had a good Fudgesicle, it definitely doesn’t taste like it’s only 100 calories.

The color is also different, Fudgsicle’s use to be a deep brown and now they’re pale.

Best Enjoyed: I don’t know, in the past? With a different recipe? By someone who loathes their children?

Our Rating: 4 out of 10. Not horrible, just not as good as they use to be. Look for a different brand, one that packs the sugar.

Nestle Crunch Bar

Walmart

I debated putting this on the list, a vanilla ice cream in a crunchy chocolate candy shell isn’t exactly a popsicle but a Nestle Crunch isn’t really ice cream either. The “vanilla” portion isn’t vanilla and if it is it’s been cut down with so much water that it’s more ice than anything else. The experience of eating on isn’t too bad though, the Nestle Crunch coating, while not the highest quality chocolate candy, is decent enough and the combination of flavors is refreshing on a hot summer day.

Best Enjoyed: Straight from a street cart ice cream vendor. Pick one up and go for a stroll through the park. But don’t make eye contact with any Geese, they WILL chase you for a Nestle Crunch.

Our Rating: 4 out of 10. This would be higher if the outer shell of the ice cream was a little thicker. Some bites cause the whole shell to crack which isn’t fun if you’re eating one of these outdoors.

Nestle Orange & Cream Creamsicle

Target

The Orange Creamsicle, better known as the 50/50 bar or Creamsicle, has always been a strange flavor to me. Who thought to put orange and cream together in ice cream form? Whatever, it works I guess. And it’s an excellent source of vitamin C (probably). So there’s that.

I chose Nestle because as of now they’re the easiest to find iteration of the classic Creamsicle, which I believe was made by Popsicle. Enough people like orange and cream that Coca-Cola saw fit to make a soda flavor of it, so the combo definitely has its fans, I’m just not really one of them.

Best Enjoyed: During the hottest of summer days. While I’m not a huge fan of the flavor, I can’t deny that they’re incredibly refreshing. The key to enjoying a 50/50 bar is to take the orange in with the cream. You need a big bite to capture the full range of flavor on offer.

Our Rating: 50/50. Which means just fine. Middling.

OtterPops

Walmart

OtterPops don’t exactly fall under the whole “must be on a stick” rule of popsicles, but c’mon, what else would you categorize these as? It’s ice, food coloring, and lab-created fruit flavor. Personally, I like the blue one and the pink one, the green one is a little strange and I almost never want to eat the purple one, but the red one is pretty solid.

Yes, OtterPops do have names, and they’re really weird. There is Poncho Punch, Little Orphan Orange, Strawberry Short Kook — they’re all very misleading. The orange one tastes NOTHING like little orphans!

Best Enjoyed: Strangely enough, on a hot summer night with a gin and tonic in your other hand. It’s part classy, part trashy — like a mullet for your mouth.

Our Rating: 3 out of 5 carnivorous mammals in the subfamily Lutrinae.

JonnyPops Raspberries Blueberries & Cream

Target

I fully expected these to be terrible. Stupid name, ugly box, and conservative flavors — plus it was touting its use of “real cream” on the front of the box. Real cream, pfft, give me delicious flavors like red-40 and yellow-5. It’s summertime, b*tches!

Well, it turns out all those real ingredients actually matter, because Jonny Pops are good. They’re hefty, stay frozen, and they’re full of flavor! It’s like making a real smoothie, freezing it, and eating it on a stick. I almost felt healthy eating one, which I know is a trick but at least it’s a fun one.

Best Enjoyed: As an indulgent breakfast. For those days you wake up and it’s already too hot, skip that breakfast smoothie and indulge a little bit.

Out Rating: 7 out of 10. This is going to sound petty but each popsicle stick has a good deed on it meant to help you pay kindness forward. I docked a point for that because I don’t take no orders from an ice cream so JonnyPops needs to chill out and mind their own damn business.

Annie’s Organic Cheerful Cherry

Target

Oh no, I hate that I like these too. Organic fruit juice, cherry flavor that ACTUALLY tastes like cherry, the use of the word “Homegrown,” am I getting old or something? Annie’s Organic Cheerful Cherry tastes like what a classic cherry popsicle tasted like in my distant memories of childhood. The cherry flavoring is strong enough that you never get that freezer burnt taste you get from some of the cheaper brands. From what I could tell, they also have a grape flavor which is pretty solid. I wish they had a multi-pack with orange, but I couldn’t find one anywhere. I guess adults don’t like variety.

Best Enjoyed: Grab some peppermint, muddle it up, add a half shot of simple syrup, a shot of good gin, ice, mix it up in a tumbler and you have yourself a delicious summer cocktail. Now dip Annie’s Cheerful Cherry in it between bites. A lot of popsicles pair well with alcohol it turns out.

Our Rating: Nepotism out of 10. JonnyPops are generally better than Annie’s Cheerful Cherry, but Mr. Nostalgia just loves his cherry popsicle son, so Annie’s got the job. How do you like that for paying it forward JonnyPops?!

Häagen-Dazs Coffee Almond Crunch

Target

Before you start complaining in the comments, I’m only putting these in because the Nestle Crunch made the cut and these are practically the same thing. Only better. Way way better. You can’t really go wrong with any of Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars but the Coffee Almond Crunch is my personal favorite. Everything about the ice cream bar tastes high quality, you never feel like you’re eating ice, and they retain their structure in even the most punishing summer temperatures. My only complaint is they’re too small.

Best Enjoyed: On a hot summer night while you’re busy binge-watching whatever you’re currently obsessed with. Unless you haven’t gotten around to watching Chernobyl. Then you’ll fear that your ice cream has radiation in it, like I did.

Our Rating: 0 out of 10. These are ice cream. The whole system is tainted now. I might as well have a pint of Salt & Straw on the list. i will die in shame. Or from shame. Probably both.

The Original Bomb Pop

Bomb Pop

Oh man, these are good. A mix of lime, blue raspberry, and cherry, Bomb Pop’s have a unique flavor that is subtly sour. Sometimes, you’ll find a Bomb Pop with a sour gumball at the tip. These aren’t necessary and frozen gum gets really really hard — we imagine Bomb Pops have cracked their fair share of teeth.

The only thing I’m not loving about Bomb Pops is that they’re kind of huge, and strangely heavy for a popsicle. The Bomb Pop also comes in a Strawberry/Raspberry flavor as well as Watermelon, neither of which are as good as the original.

Best Enjoyed: Isn’t it obvious? On the Fourth of July. While everyone else is waving American flags, I’ll be holding up my Bomb Pop high.

Our Rating: 9 out of 10. Still as good as childhood.

The Big Stick

Popsicle

“Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far.” I bet you never guessed President Theodore Roosevelt was a Big Stick fan. Well he was. This is the best popsicle on freaking Earth. I don’t care what brand you get — whether it’s by Popsicle or it comes in a plastic bag with no label — the Big Stick is delicious and incredibly refreshing. While definitely not the giant size they once were, The Big Stick swirls cherry and pineapple together for a flavor that is totally unlike either and is greater than the sum of its parts. I always knew this popsicle was going to win the ranking and I’m glad it didn’t end up getting beat by one of the more health-conscious offerings.

When one says “do you want a popsicle?” I’m hoping for a Big Stick. Every time.

Best Enjoyed: Any day of the summer. This is the most refreshing and best tasting “ice pop” on the market. Always has been, always will be.

Our Rating:10 out of 10. Duh.

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