Food, New Orleanians

How a local chef cured his homesickness with homemade ‘Popstar’ popsicles

Cherry Coke float, pineapple upside down cake, red velvet popsicles… is your mouth watering yet?

It’s already July, the heat is scorching and the humidity is hovering somewhere in the high 90s. You need a cool treat, and just a run-of-the-mill cold drink won’t do. Popstars Icicle Treats are supercool fresh flavor infusions that are handcrafted and flash frozen. These tasty popsicles come in a variety of unique, layered flavors and they’re sure to hit the spot on a hot summer’s day.

Chef Neal Swidler first started crafting Popstars shortly after Hurricane Katrina; he saw the popsicles as a way to cure the homesick blues while “exiled” in Phoenix. The concept started with a simple mold and expanded from there.


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“We were staying with a great friend, the pastry chef who trained me, and she gave me a set of star-shaped popsicle molds as a cheering-up gift,” Swidler explained. “I really missed our life in the 504, and bringing the concept of Popstars back here was a very cool homecoming.”

Popstars Icicle Treats are made with super-fresh ingredients that are sure to keep your taste buds interested- these aren’t your run-of-the-mill popsicles. Swidler mixes different flavors and creates interesting concoctions to keep customers satisfied; each pop takes days to complete, because of the layering that’s involved. Developing new popsicle flavors is an artistic process and Swidler puts a little something special into every bite.


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“Time, imagination and occasionally poetry go into our pops; it’s a very creative process,” he said. “Ingredient-wise, we use only fresh fruit that we make into ices and sorbet, and fresh dairy and cane sugar. We bake our own cookies, crusts and crumbles for inside the pops, and do our own confectionary work with chocolate, as well for frozen treasures you just might discover in your Popstar.”

Popstars Icicle Treats come in an array of rotating flavors including Blueberry Poponopolous made with fresh blueberry sorbet swirled with Greek vanilla honey yogurt, Cherry Coke Float made with Cherry Coke ice, vanilla-cherry ice cream and maraschino black cherry sorbet, and Plum White Chocolate Almond made with red plum sorbet, almond ice cream and chunks of handmade white chocolate toasted almond bark.

One of the current flavors that Swidler personally recommends is Pineapple Upside Down.

“We’re running Pineapple Upside Down right now and I think it’s really good,” he said. “It has pineapple sorbet layered with a praline ice cream, and finished with a black and maraschino cherry ice and there’s caramelized upside-down cake inside.”

What We Ate

I can attest that the Pineapple Upside Down is a real all-star. I found it to be the perfect combination of icy pop and tasty cake.

Swidler uses seasonal fruits to make his pops and he keeps the ingredients as fresh as possible. He said that’s what people love most about Popstars.

He explained, “It’s all about summer seasonality, so watch what we do with peaches, plums, and watermelons. People get hooked on the first one they try, and I think a lot of folks must have tried strawberry cheesecake — we can’t make enough!”

One of my personal favorites is Gilligan’s Isle made with pineapple sorbet, dairy-free coconut cream and slices of fresh banana. It’s filled with island goodness to the point that it’s almost like a piña colada on a stick.

Swindler peddles his Popstars on his “popcycle” near Bayou St. John, but if you want to order one (or a bunch!) your best bet is where you can get the lowdown on the latest flavors and place an order for pickup or delivery. Popstars Icicle Pops are $2.50 each and there’s a sweet introductory deal of 10 pops for $20.

Popstars are also available for events and have cooled crowds at Voodoo Fest, Tales of the Cocktail, and private parties. Swidler also hopes to be able to offer his pops at music and arts festivals soon.

More than a summer treat, Chef Swidler said that his pops are here to stay and will try new flavors as the seasons change.


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“I love autumn foods, so I really enjoy making our Pumpkin Chocolate Chip pop, and then there’s winter citrus, and island flavors which stay tropical fruity through the winter,” he said.

Swidler is loving making the flavorful 3-layered pops and sharing them with his customers. He loves that his popsicles allow him to meet new people and introduce them to something cool and tasty.

He said, “It’s pretty groovy, and the Popstars are ridiculously good.”