by Mallory Moad
It’s August, and as summers go, this one has been sizzling. So what? Those high temperatures have given us plenty of chances to enjoy hot weather traditions like backyard barbecues, flip-flops, running through sprinklers on the front lawn, and of course, popsicles. More easily identified by color than taste, these icy sugar/water/artificial flavor concoctions are summer memories on a stick.
But these days, many of us have become more conscious about food choices. Concerned about how what we eat affects our bodies, frozen purple glucose isn’t as appealing as it once was. Thanks to local foodie-for-life, Donna Mott, it isn’t necessary to go through the hottest months of the year in a state of frozen treat deprivation. Her Ooh De Lolli ice pops are a remedy for one-hundred-plus degree days that are actually pretty good for you.
Describing herself as “a popsicle maker and all-around tinkerer of food,” the science of all things culinary has been Donna’s primary interest since she was a child. “My Easy Bake Oven preoccupied my young mind,” she says. “It wasn’t long before I became uninterested in the prepackaged mixes that came with it.” She began experimenting with her own combinations of ingredients, watching liquidy batter transform into solid baked goods under a one-hundred-watt bulb. In high school, Donna would frequently ditch her PE class to run home and watch the Galloping Gourmet on TV: “No regrets there!”
It was during a period of unemployment, thanks to a downturn in the economy, that Donna was inspired by a book about paletas (Mexican frozen desserts) she found while browsing in a kitchen store. The light bulb from the Easy Bake Oven went on over her head and that adventurous little girl said, “You can make these, but even better!”
Figuring it senseless to duplicate flavors that were already available in popular chain shops, Donna began making ice pops with unique flavor combinations. They were – and still are – gluten and dairy free, as well as vegan. Served as dessert at potlucks and random gatherings, it wasn’t long before this delicious product carved out its own niche in the local food scene. She was soon selling these tasty treats at local events from a cart that is more like a cute freezer on wheels, and the popularity of Ooh De Lolli Ice Pops grew.
Twelve years later, this energetic, ambitious entrepreneur is the owner of a business, Ooh De Lolli Kitchen Works and Fine Edibles. She has her own professional kitchen, complete with a Brazilian machine that cranks out 200 ice pops in an hour. The number of carts has increased to three, and Donna can be seen around town in her official Ooh De Lolli van. If the rumors are true, this vibrant orange vehicle can be seen from as far away as Mars.
Quality ingredients and supporting the local economy are both important to Donna. Whenever possible, she uses fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. Produce that isn’t native to the Central Valley, like mangoes, coconut, and bananas are obtained from sources she feels are reputable and responsible. She is always expanding the selection of flavors and recently added what she calls “wellness pops” to the menu. Healthy foods aren’t always seen as flavorful or enjoyable, but these wellness pops knock that old stereotype out of the ballpark. The Green Smoothie, with carrots, bananas, six other ripe fruits, and kale, has a surprisingly delicate, complex flavor. That’s right, kale. I know what you’re thinking, but this doesn’t taste anything like something your mom would try to make you eat. Other wellness pops include the tart, sophisticated Nectarine Kombucha pop and Golden Milk pop with turmeric, honey, and coconut milk. Donna adds, “The wellness pops have a small representation” in the variety of what she offers, so if you prefer something more familiar, flavors like Blueberry Lemonade (a personal favorite), Mandarin Ginger, and Mango Coconut are always available.
Ice pop season runs from May through mid-October and during the cooler months, Donna the Ice Pop Maker becomes Donna the Baker. She’s as adventurous with baked goods as she is with ice pops and her variations on cookies, muffins, and pies are always popular at the pop-up bakery events where she sells these scrumptious goodies. “My very first pop-up was such a huge success, I sold out in 45 minutes.” Usually held in small boutiques shops and art galleries, she would like to expand into large scale corporate environments. “Employees can come and purchase anything they like while they’re at work.” That’s a job incentive I can get behind.
What about the history behind the name Ooh De Lolli? It comes from a song featured in the 1973 Disney animated film, Robin Hood. Donna would sing this song, with it’s “oo de lally” refrain to her granddaughter, Tate. “Lally” was replaced with “lolli” (a shortened version of the European “ice lolli”). That’s a story that’s as naturally sweet as a Creamy Lime ice pop.
Donna will be selling Ooh De Lolli ice pops every Saturday morning at the Vineyard Farmers Market on Shaw and Blackstone through September 29 and at various ArtHop locations on September 6 and October 4. You can follow Ooh De Lolli Kitchen Works and Fine Edibles on Facebook.
My name is Mallory Moad, and I stand with local independent business people like Donna Mott. I hope you do, too.