Consider the power of the Popsicle. For many, touching one to their lips sends the pitter-patter of childhood nostalgia racing straight to the heart. Its icy coolness instantly refreshes and shields the heat-weary Texan from the unrelenting summer swelter.
To boot, it's one of the most democratizing desserts there is — even the most broke among us can scrape together a buck for the pushcart guy at the park. In the spirit of power to the people, here's your guide to some of the best frozen pops around, both fancy and frugal.
746 S. Central Expressway, Richardson
Price: $3.99-$4.49, plus 50 cents for dips and toppings
This New York-based franchise just celebrated its grand opening in Richardson, and you should believe the hype. Its "gelato on a stick" concept results in a super creamy (and super melty) treat that's worth going out of your way for. There's some creative stuff going on here, like the popwich (a pop sandwiched between two chocolate wafers) and the chocolate/caramel-covered popcorn pop. Fruit-based sorbetto pops are a solid dairy-free option, and if you're trying to watch what you eat without hating life, it's a pretty sweet deal: all natural ingredients, free from preservatives and nutritional values readily available.
310 West Las Colinas Blvd., Irving
Price: $3.50-$5.49, plus $1.25 for the dipping bar (try the Himalayan pink sea salt powder or the chamoy sauce)
Alcohol pops, anyone? At 3.5 percent ABV per serving, you'd need to eat an awful lot of frosé, sangria, margarita, citrus mojito or piña colada popsicles to even get a buzz. This is all the excuse we need to eat an awful lot of pops. Oh, and there are pops without booze, too.
508 W. Seventh St. (Bishop Arts District)
Sure, you can get your frozen pops dipped just about anywhere that sells them, but there is perhaps no better place to do so than here, where chocolate is elevated to an art form. Mother-daughter team Andrea and Cindy Pedraza partner with Pop Factory in order to accomplish this little miracle, offered in flavors such as raspberry, coconut and cafe, loaded with real espresso beans. In the quaint, cottage-like setting, you'll no doubt be tempted to pick up a little something extra, like the gorgeous high-heel-shaped chocolates, a horchata with a shot of espresso or even one of the art pieces that adorn the walls.
Paleteria San Marcos
14203 S. Coit Road (Far North Dallas)
Price: $1 each or 20 for $18
Paleteria San Marcos, which has served authentic Mexican paletas since 1998, is the real deal. If you're not lucky enough to happen upon it in pushcarts around town, stop by one of its two stores. There's an array of exciting flavors, like papaya con avocado, mamey, rompope (Mexican eggnog) and pineapple-esque nanche. In addition to traditional paletas, you'll also find bolis ice pops. You'll want to pick up a bunch, and you probably should — it's $2 cheaper if you buy 20. The store is happy to throw in a bag of ice so you don’t go home with a puddle. Might want to pick up a snack or a Topo Chico preparada (lime and chamoy) before you go.
415 W. Davis St. (Bishop Arts District)
Offering Brazilian-style gourmet paletas, Picole is the home of the filled pop. Banana stuffed with Nutella is (obviously) a standout, as is the refreshing cucumber-lime flavor. Choose any two flavors (not the two just mentioned), and they'll blend 'em into a popshake for you. Brightly painted walls, spacious seating and 3D popsicle art make this an Instagram-friendly spot.
831 W. Davis St. (Bishop Arts District)
Price: $3.50 per pop, plus $1 for a dark chocolate dip
One of our top three favorites, this place exudes the joy and character true to its name. Truly inventive flavors have a home here. The spicy pico de gallo pop (watermelon and jicama sub for tomato and onion) walks the line between sweet and savory to great effect. There's a straight-up vanilla pop, too, if you need to stay in your comfort zone. Takilokos (Takis chips topped with jicama and spicy sauce) are a thing here, too.
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Steel City Pops
Multiple locations (Dallas, Fort Worth and Garland)
Price: $3.49-$4.49, with a $4 12-pop discount
Born in Alabama, these beauties made their way to Greenville Avenue in 2014, and multiple locations have branched out over the past few years. There's a reason: They're damn good. Steel City has perfected a beautifully flaky texture you just won't find in a grocery store pop. Every month brings a new signature flavor —this month's is coconut Key lime pie. You can dredge, drizzle, dip or dust them in a variety of ways, but they're pretty perfect just the way they are. All of Steel City's pops (even cookie pops) are gluten-free, all-natural and all-delicious. There's even occasionally a kick-ass vegan chocolate. Thirsty or not, buy Provid water while you're there. Proceeds go to clean water projects for those in need through a partnership with Neverthirst.
Multiple locations (Richardson, Park Cities and Plano in Legacy Food Hall)
The focus at Berrynaked, a haven for the health-conscious pop lover, is on nutritious ingredients. Its menu is divided into four categories: signature (fruit), luxe (creamy), vitality (superfoods) and crazy (decadent and creative). You can get your veggies in with a surprisingly tasty kale avocado lime pop, but no judgment if you go with cookies 'n' cream instead. You could always balance it out with a puree bowl such as "the surfer," a blended fruit base topped with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, coconut and hempseed granola.