A Quiet End to Popsicle Season


Photo by Nathalie Jordi

The weather in New York has finally changed, for good this time. Some days are still sunny, though they now darken alarmingly fast. But this last weekend, which we'd decided would be the last of the popsicle season, was dismal: rainy and cold.

This means that, for the first time in a summer-long scramble to shorten the yawning divide between supply and demand, we are actually sitting on a fat cache of popsicles and an empty bag of plans for them. It's a new feeling...and man, is it a bummer!

Our pops don't really of themselves have an expiration date, other than the one the sun sets. Our experience has shown that soon as temps dip below 70 degrees, the gene shared by every sweaty punter lining up for a popsicle immediately goes into hiding. Hibernation, I guess. It's as astonishing as it is depressing. Inexplicably, ice cream is exempt from this phenomenon (I just talked to a guy in rural Alaska who's trying to sell me a battery-powered freezer box--he claims that demand for ice cream in Alaska is high as they come. And I believe him.)

There's still a bit of fruit in the farmer's market, but the last 25 pounds of peaches we bought were so mealy they were better off as compost. There seem to be lessons about greed and hubris under every stone I turn these days.

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We thought of going to market this weekend (although rain is predicted again), this time selling bags of take-home pops packed with dry ice, just to get rid of the inventory before freezer burn sets in. Part of me is kind of curious to see how people respond to a different value proposition: a bag of five popsicles for the home freezer, rather than a naked popsicle against which to fight the sun. The other part of me is terrified that we'll invest the couple of hundred dollars it takes to show up at the market and watch desolately as people in quilted coats and beanies bum-rush the ice cream stand.

I think we may just give the popsicles away to a school or hospital. Why not? We've had a terrific season. I'd rather give them away quickly than prevaricate until they're so freezer-burned it's an embarrassment to sell them.

Still, after such a gang-bang of a season, it's an unexpected turn of events. Ah, but this is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a whimper.