This summer, at least in my neck of the woods, looks to be a scorcher (thanks global warming!), so obviously I will be keeping my eyes peeled for various ways to stay cool that don’t take up a lot of my time and won’t break the bank. In that spirit, I thought I would take a look at a gadget that would fit that bill for me and maybe be fun as well –  the Zoku home popsicle maker.Box1

There were a few other options for making popsicles at home available to me, but after comparing a few selling points – quality of the product for the price, range of products from the brand itself, etc. – I decided to stick with the Zoku. Although the company is based in New Jersey, their philosophy (and their name) is Japanese in concept. They are a company focused on making quality, functional products that are available to everyone, are fun and easy to use. Their biggest hit is the Zoku Quick Pop Maker. They can be found in most better-known specialty stores (Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams-Sonoma) or department stores (Macy’s and the like). They offer an impressive range of possibilities for making popsicles; standard, round and mini-sized makers can be found ($16.99-49.99), as are a range of tools for making  unique flavor combinations and designs. Having difficulty deciding what to make first? There is also a recipe book ($16.95) full of creative notions. And if you’re thinking homemade popsicles are just for kids, think again; while they do offer fun animal and character-shaped molds for smaller children, the overall marketing of the products is very sophisticated and clearly aimed more at kids-at-heart than kids themselves. Always working at staying on the cutting edge of novelty product design, Zoku has also recently launched a small home ice cream maker, a slush and shake maker, and for all of you out there (like me) who must caffeinate, an iced coffee maker ($29.99). Be sure to check out their site to get all the details and see their full range of goods.Pop1

I chose the Round Pop Molds for my foray into summertime treat-making, a four-pop set that is comprised of a sturdy plastic base, silicone liners that I found to be very easy to use and clean, and sticks for each mold. The process really can’t get any more simple; grab your liquid of choice (I’ll talk more about mine in a minute), pour into the molds, and pop the entire set into the freezer. There is a small instruction book included, but if you’re over the age of about seven, you won’t need it. It’s recommended that you let them freeze approximately eight hours, but I simply allowed mine to sit overnight.  My first attempt was with fruit juice, an easy, standard popsicle type; I layered pomegranate juice and lemonade, allowing the lemonade layer to set almost completely before adding in the pomegranate. My second type was actually one of the primary reasons behind this trial – I am a child of the eighties, and this summer has had me reminiscing about Jello Pudding Pops. While I am aware that Jello does make a Pudding Pop kit of  its own, I couldn’t resist the idea of potentially making my own, and as this was my first attempt I opted for an easy, traditional chocolate pudding. My third flavor choice was a strawberry frozen yogurt pop, as I wanted to find out how the molds handled a variety of foods.Mold1

All attempts were of course, successful, and very tasty. The pops maintained their flavors very well, and although they were frozen fairly solid, I feel like that is both the condition of my personal freezer and the fact that I left the pops in longer than the recommended eight hours. I will also say that the general texture of the “juice pop” I made was very similar to a granita, and I had to consume it more quickly than the other two. And my nostalgic foray into pudding pops? It was delicious, but did fall short of the original. I will continue to experiment until I get it perfected, however. Those will be “mistakes” I don’t mind making!PicsArt1

Overall, I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in trying out their hand at homemade popsicle making. The pros are pretty obvious; not only was there a financial benefit – you’re spend a reasonable amount one time for all the pops you can make – but there’s also the nutritional aspect. You will know exactly what is going into the treats you are making, and the options really are endless. The principal con I feel like would maybe be convenience; if you want something now (like, right now), and aren’t much on waiting, then you may just want to run to the super market and grab a box of something yummy on a stick. And I am in no way detracting from the many popsicle varieties on the market. Virtually every ice cream brand out there has a great treat-on-a-stick item, both nutritious and…well, less so. So if you’re looking for a fun and delicious way to stay cool this summer, give the Zoku line a try. And if you’re already a fan, be sure to leave your favorite flavor ideas in the comments below. Happy eating!