For more than 20 years now, Nostalgia Farms has brought the farm-to-fork concept from its farm to its customers. For six years, it has operated Fresh Deli by Nostalgia Farms in the Freight House building along River Drive in Davenport.
Fresh Deli — at 421 W. River Drive — serves up made-fresh menu items with local ingredients, and everything’s made from scratch.
Its owners, Ed Kraklio, Jr. and Joe Dennis, always are looking for new menu items. A few years ago, Dennis came up with a frozen pop treat, Kraklio says — just perfect for a summer refresher.
“Joe started looking around. We read a lot of food magazines, and Joe read an article on poletas, which are Mexican popsicles,” Kraklio says. That sounded good, so Kraklio bought his first set of frozen pop molds and set up a food lab.
The two found that even though the concept is very simple — freezing water, sugar and fruit on a stick — perfecting the pops was a different story. Kraklio says it took some time to commercialize their product.
“It was hard to do,” he says. “We tried using our ice cream freezers, but the pops were in too small of batches, and we found we didn’t have the right freezers — they froze too solid.”
For these treats, you have to have the right temperature. The two found that somewhere between 26 to 30 degrees is a good temp. For ice cream, on the other hand, the freezer should be set between -5 and zero degrees, and the ideal serving-temperature range for easy dipping is between 6 and 10 degrees.
“Also, sugar and fruit together can be tricky to freeze," Kraklio says, as all fruits have a range of sugar content. Kraklio and Dennis repeatedly tried to find the right combination of fruit, sugar and water. After honing the recipe into four-cup increments, the next learning curve they came across was unmolding, or removing the pops from their molds and wrapping them.
“You can’t have too much slush,” Kraklio says.
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During the recipe process, the two handed out samples to customers. They loved that — especially when the original pops took off, and the two were on to an “adult pop” made with alcohol.
“People were beating the doors down for that testing,” Kraklio says. “They’d stop by… ‘When you testing?’ they’d ask.”
The adult pops took a while to perfect, too. "You have to cook the alcohol slightly. You don’t want to lose the alcohol, so there’s a fine line between under- and over-cooking it," Kraklio says.
The two experimented with vodka and tequila. “We also thought, ‘Coffee… Why can’t we add Baileys (Irish cream) and butterscotch schnapps?’ So we came up with coffee, Bailey’s Irish cream, sugar, vanilla in an iced coffee. That’s our Mocha Madness.”
Because “there’s nothing we do that doesn’t tie into something else,” the two incorporate unused wine into their pops now, too. “Anything that would normally be used in your sangria, we make in a pop,” says Kraklio, including fruit.
And their margarita pops have fresh lime in every one, while mojitos have fresh mint, because “that’s what makes them, right?” Kraklio says with a smile.
Never overlooking the family dog, Dennis did some research and finally came up with bars made with pureed peanut butter, bananas and blueberries. “It’s not very sweet, so humans won’t like it as much," Kraklio says.
Kraklio and Dennis say they make pops for the entire family, now: original, alcoholic and some for Fido, too.
"We now have summer refreshments the whole family can enjoy together.”