The cool story behind popsicles

The cool story behind popsicles
The cool story behind popsicles 03:45

On a hot summer day, who doesn't like a popsicle? But did you know the original popsicle sprang from the mind of a ten-year-old boy named Frank Epperson?

Back in 1905, on an unusually cold San Francisco night, "He had some kind of soda mix in a glass and for experimental reasons he decided to leave it out on the porch overnight," said his granddaughter, Kathleen Epperson. "And in the morning when he came out, it was frozen solid. And so he took it out, and that was the beginning of the popsicle."

But Frank Epperson would have to grow up before he patented his idea, in 1924.

"He called it 'Ep-sicle,'" said Kathleen. "Ep for Epperson, and sicle because it looked like an icicle."

Popsicles! CBS News

But his four-year-old son George came up with a catchier name: "He ran up and he put his arms around his father's leg and he said, 'Pop, pop, can I have a 'sicle? I want a popsicle!'"

Frank Epperson took his popsicles to San Francisco's Neptune Beach, the "Coney Island of the West."

Kathleen explained: "Each week it'd be a different kid going in and asking for a popsicle. And the guy would have to say, 'We don't sell popsicles.' And then after several weeks of different kids asking for popsicles, my grandfather would go in and say, 'Can I interest you in selling popsicles?'"

Marketing genius! But then, the Great Depression hit, and he was forced to sell all his rights, for $50,000.

Good Humor-Breyers is the latest company to make popsicles. According to Russel Lilly, senior marketing director at parent company Unilever, "We make over two billion popsicles per year."

Correspondent Nancy Giles tried out one of Popsicle's magical Double Pops. The Double Pop, once discontinued, is now the height of cool, its return championed by the likes of Justin Beiber.

But in these days of social distancing, Giles said, "Since there's no one in the room to share this with, I guess I'll have to have it myself!"

"I won't tell anybody," Lilly laughed.

Nancy Giles with a Double Pop popsicle all to herself. CBS News

And creative folks are still being inspired by Frank Epperson's original idea.

Khalid Hamid and his wife, Shelly, created Island Pops in Crown Heights, Brooklyn five years ago.

Both came from Trinidad, and it was Shelly's craving for the flavors of her homeland that inspired them to open this family business. "We saw the need for the island experience, the island authenticity," Khalid said. "Flavors like guava, sorrel, passion-fruit, coconut, mango."

Khalid Hamid, of Brooklyn's Island Pops, makes a pineapple popsicle.  CBS News

"Everything that we do is handmade, small batch, made with love and based on memories that we have acquired growing up in the Caribbean."

Island Pops' frozen desserts, from popsicles to ice cream and snow cones, are, Khalid said, like "a vacation in a spoon."

Ahhh, a vacation … and these days, isn't that what we all want?

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Story produced by Charis Satchell. Editor: Remington Korper.