The Popsicle Parade – Part 1!

With summer just over a month away, I’m only a little early in launching Dino Drac’s latest recurring feature. Introducing The Popsicle Parade, a multi-part series celebrating dozens of the wonderful things we used to buy from ice cream trucks!

There’s a certain “artistry” to popsicles that’s easy to admire. The colors! Those weird shapes! The impressive skill with which random cartoon characters’ heads were somehow forged out of quick-melting water ice!

Nearly none of the treats I’ll be featuring are still on the market. They came out at various points in the past 25 years, delighting our eyes and stomachs for a limited time only. Don’t let any of these things make you too specifically hungry, because you just can’t get most of these beauts anymore.

#1: Street Sharks Popsicle!

Street Sharks was a mid ‘90s cartoon about heroic shark-men who battled a bunch of bizarre humanoid sea creatures. You could whittle it down to “Ninja Turtles with sharks,” but the series wouldn’t have such a cult following if the story stopped there. (Of course, the fact that Street Sharks had such amazing toys didn’t hurt.)

This popsicle takes its likeness from Ripster, the “great white” Street Shark who served as team leader. Course, you don’t need to care one bit about the series to appreciate a shark popsicle with tiny bubble gum eyes. The fact that its flesh was made of somewhat unusual strawberry ice made it all the sweeter.

#2: Big Bang Popsicle!

Edible Americana, but with a twist. The last of the three “sections” was stuffed with Pop Rocks, which aside from heightening the flavor, also made the popsicle crackle and pop in our mouths!

A brilliant upgrade, no doubt. While I wouldn’t have normally chosen an everyday “Bomb Pop” over the slew of icy hero heads waiting in the ice cream truck, that Pop Rocks bonus would’ve changed everything.

#3: Klondike Double Decker Sandwich!

Okay, technically, this isn’t a popsicle. I’ll be breaking that rule fairly often during this series, so get used to it.

The beauty of the Double Decker was how it helped us skirt guilt. Surely there have been times when no single item from the ice cream truck would’ve been enough to satisfy you. Klondike’s Double Decker was almost as good as buying two treats, while totally removing the fear that the ice cream man might call you a demon. No longer would we pretend to pick up second desserts for imaginary younger sisters. If we wanted to feel sickly full, the Double Decker was our lord and savior.

#4: WWF Superstars Ice Cream Bar!

One of the most famous popsicles ever! With a middle of vanilla ice cream and a backplate of hardened milk chocolate, the key component was the mushy cookie front, each stamped with the likeness of a pro-wrestler!

Debuting in the ‘80s, WWF Ice Cream Bars survived for ages, never changing the core formula but always swapping the featured wrestlers. (Lex Luger may have enjoyed ice cream stardom in 1994, but by ’97, he was sooo out of rotation.)

These were required eating for wrestling fans, but with the bars being so unique in their presentation, even many non-fans couldn’t resist them. As an added bonus, each came with a free trading card!

#5: Super Mario Bros. Bar!

The Super Mario popsicle was available in spurts over the course of many years, and for all I know, it’s still being made today.

Nintendo kept things simple, sticking with the flavors and extras that were already proven hits. For one thing, the popsicle was made of cherry ice, which is one of those “safe” flavors that everyone loves. Then, borrowing an idea from several popsicles that preceded it, the vaguely Mario-themed head was topped with a big pink gumball nose.

In the realm of popsicles, we must never discount the power of gumball body parts. Through the years, I have suffered through some pretty piss poor popsicles to get at those things. In truth, for many of us, the gum was the whole point. We’d toss the popsicle after two licks just to hurry the process.

#6: The Great White!

While I certainly remember these, I can’t recall their flavor. Smart money is on “lemon,” but I can’t rule out the possibility that this was one of those popsicles that hid “cherry” under an unassuming cloak of white.

More importantly, IT’S SHAPED LIKE A SHARK.

Great White bars never looked as good in person as they did on the stickers. If you wanted perfectly visible eyes and gills, you had to get the freshest Great White bar, kept at the most impossibly accurate temperature. Most of the time, it looked more like a beached shark, slowly decomposing into something cryptozoologists might call a “globster.”

#7: The Mask Popsicle!

From 1997, these weren’t based on the Jim Carrey movie, but rather the cartoon series that spun from it. Which, to be honest, I have not seen one single episode of.

Even if I had no passion for anything Mask-related, I don’t know how I would’ve resisted a popsicle with TWO gumballs tacked on. Especially these gumballs, which were painted to resemble The Mask’s psychotic eyes! (Neatly, even if the eyeballs were placed in totally unsymmetrical positions — a common popsicle mishap — it still fit the theme.)

#8: Bubble Play!

This one was HUGE for me. I don’t remember the flavor, but that was never important. It was all about that baseball gumball. The stitching really sold it!

A sports-themed popsicle wasn’t exactly up my alley, and as cool as the edible baseball was, that could have only been part of it. Actually, I think I gravitated to Bubble Play bars as a method of obtaining a little street cred. “Look, guys! I may go home whenever someone brings a bat outside, but I’m eating a baseball glove! We have common ground!”

#9: Orange Polar Pole!

This wasn’t something I ever remember getting from an ice cream truck, but we always had boxes of these in the house. I see this, and I’m instantly four-years-old again. If memory serves, I knew them as “Push Pops,” and I’m fairly certain that the ones I used to eat had some promotional link to Fred Flintstone.

The rod of sherbet became progressively messier as you ate your way through. There was no way to look graceful while eating these. If you don’t believe me, try it. Whether by “Rich” or another maker, bars like this are definitely still around.

#10: Bart Simpson Popsicle!

Another classic that came and went and came again. So long as The Simpsons remains in production, we can only consider Bart Simpson pops as “alive” or “dormant.” Never “dead.”

Bart’s flesh might not look delicious, but with sour cherry and lemonade flavors, it most certainly was. Bart adopted the gumball eye strategy as well, even if his were a bit on the small side.

As I recall, it was especially fun to eat his hair, as it let you provide Bart with a series of alternative hairdos before finally killing him with the death bite.

I hope you like ice cream, because I think I have enough ammo to do at least 5 of these posts. Stay tuned!

  • Three Oranges

    I almost never got actual ice cream from the ice cream man, because he was the only place I could get Garbage Pail Kids at the time.

  • Matt

    @Three Oranges: HOLY FUCK, DUDE. I have honestly not thought about that once in all my many years of nostalgia-ing. Our ice cream guy totally did that too, and you’re right, it was incredible. When we were collecting GPKs, nearby stores sold them, but none so near that our young asses were allowed to go there alone. The truck was a godsend for that.

  • D-Isca

    Great article. I look forward to the rest. Nothing evokes my childhood more than hearing the ice cream truck and seeing those character popsicles. 2 other things:

    1) I never really got into the edible + bubble gum combination. I was never hugely into bubblegum, though I enjoyed it now and then, but the idea of eating something and then switching gears to merely chewing always seemed odd and unappealing to me. I never did like blow pops and I always steered away from the character popsicles because I didn’t want to deal with the bubblegum parts. Which is a weird, since I could have always simply discarded it.

    2) Somewhat recently, about a year or so, Street Sharks was available on Netflix streaming. I only watched the first episode, but it was great/awful. The first 5 minutes features an impossible highway race between the four human brothers who shall be transformed into sharks. One had a motorcycle where he jumped from one flying freeway pass to another, the other a jetpack. Its great stuff.

  • Jack Tripper

    Fellow Staten Islander here. Whenever the ice cream truck came around, I’d either get a Fat Frog or a Buffalo Bill. Man I miss those. Here’s a pic…

  • mporcius

    Fat Frog by Good Humor was always my favorite, but we got those at the supermarket, not out of a truck. I still sing the song from the commercial.

    Apparently there were different versions of Fat Frog available, at different time periods and/or in different countries. In New Jersey we had the one that looked like this:

    The eyes are like M&Ms.

  • AdamX

    Double Decker Klondike?

    That would’ve went into the rotation of WWF Bar/Oreo Ice Cream Cookie/Choco Taco/Mudslide Ice Cream Bar.

    I miss when we had ice cream trucks here…well good ones.

  • Sensei John Kreese

    On the subject of non-food items on the ice cream truck, I would sometimes get those little foam planes that come in a wrapper and you assemble it yourself. It’s been a long time, but I believe they were World War II style planes. Or the solid color plastic paratrooper with the parachute. Even though they weren’t great toys, it was still cool that you could get stuff like that from the ice cream truck.

    The one thing I didn’t like and I think we can all relate to is you’d hear pop-goes-the-weasel and scramble to get enough change (or if you’re lucky, cash) together, and by the time you get out the door, the guy’s down the street! Sure, we’d get our exercise, but would it hurt the guy to drive just a little bit slower? I mean, who runs a business where they act like they’re trying to get away from their customers? There’s nothing quite as sad as a child that JUST BARELY missed the ice cream truck.

  • Jason

    This is great!

    I wish they still made the Super Mario bars. The SpongeBob ones that are on the market today probably taste exactly like them, but it’s just not the same.

    The Great White bars were indeed lemon flavored. I loved those things, but I’m also a guy who loves lemon flavored candies and such.

    And the Orange Polar Poles are the more common Push-Ups. Push-Pops are the lollipop candies. I frequently call Push-Ups Push-Pops as well. Pretty similar.

  • Rob

    Great memories from this fellow Staten Islander. My top five ice cream man treats from our local truck known as the Blue Sky Bar were:
    5)Fat Frog
    4)Buffalo Bill
    3)Bubble Play
    2)WWF Wrestling Bars
    1)Froz Fruits (preferably cherry, but banana and coconut were full of fruit and tasted awesome)

    Thanks for the childhood flashbacks, as always.

  • Ryan

    Last wwe/f bar I had was abot 10 years back in cape may, nj. It had all the ice cream goodness I remember even if the ice cream guy didnt quite have the freezer set cold enough. I want to say that I got the undertaker bar but maybe that’s just me hoping…

  • CK

    Wow, I don’t remember the Bart Simpson bar, but The Mask Ice Pop just brought back a bunch of memories. That was great! My favorite part was obviously the eyeballs. They actually had the red veins wrapped around the gumball. Of course, I also loved the WWF bars. Would like to see them come back. Good stuff!

  • Doctor Boris

    Spider-Man face ice cream was my #1 ice cream truck of an ice cream, but for WWF ice cream 75% of the time I’ve gotten Ultimate Warrior graphic on the ice cream.

  • Doctor Boris

    Froz Fruits are awesome, especially watermelon [don't know if they still make it, but it had real melon seeds in it] and strawberry.

  • Felix Vasquez Jr.

    The WWE Superstar Bars were very delicious. I’d buy them for the trading card first, and to compare who got what wrestler on the bar with my cousins, and the added benefit was that the bars were very good to eat. It was a trifecta of rewards.

    The push up sherbert bars were delicious too. I only ate them through their link through the Flintstones.

  • Sun-Wukong

    The Flintstones Push Ups were always my favorite as a kid, out of the stuff on this list.

    You know what was even better, though? Snoopy bars. Yes, you could eat the face of everyone’s favorite beagle, and he was delicious. Sure, it was just chocolate and vanilla ice cream, but it was also THE BEST chocolate and vanilla ice cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. As far as I know, they don’t make them anymore. I’d give all the money I have for one right now…