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Which Popular Treat Was Accidentally Invented by an 11-Year-Old Boy?

The Popsicle, a frozen delight enjoyed worldwide, was serendipitously created by 11-year-old Frank Epperson in 1905. This sweet accident occurred when Frank left a mixture of powdered soda, water, and a stirring stick on his porch overnight, resulting in the first ice pop. Intrigued by this tale of youthful innovation? Discover how Frank's frosty mistake became a cultural phenomenon.

If you're currently shivering your way through winter, the thought of enjoying an icy popsicle is probably far from your mind. But at the height of summer, the frozen treat will start to sound much more appealing – and you'll have Frank Epperson to thank for that.

Back in 1905, Epperson was 11 years old and living in San Francisco. One night, he left a mixture of soda powder and water outside, with the wooden stirrer still in the cup. The next morning, it had frozen solid, creating an icy treat on a stick (after it was dislodged from the cup). Enterprising from a young age, Epperson called it the "Epsicle" (Epperson + icicle) and started to sell it locally. He was still in the Epsicle business 18 years later, when he began selling them at Neptune Beach in Alameda, dubbed the "Coney Island of the West." He patented his creation in 1924.

From Epsicle to Popsicle:

  • So why don't we still call the beloved ice pops Epsicles? Epperson's children called them "Pop's 'Sicles," which was shortened to "Popsicle," and that name caught on.

  • Unfortunately, Epperson didn't get to enjoy the growing success of the Popsicle; he sold the rights in the late 1920s, before it became a national favorite. Popsicles became even more popular during the Great Depression, when the double-stick version debuted for 5 cents, making them an affordable purchase for families.

  • The Popsicle's new owner, the Joe Lowe Co., engaged in a lengthy copyright battle with Good Humor, which had debuted their now-familiar chocolate-covered ice cream-on-a-stick. Eventually, both brands were purchased by Unilever. These days, around two billion Popsicles are sold every year.

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    • In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson accidentally invented the popsicle when he left soda powder and water outside overnight with the stirrer still in the cup.
      By: Heidi De Vries
      In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson accidentally invented the popsicle when he left soda powder and water outside overnight with the stirrer still in the cup.