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This past June, Le Pops owner David Harrison became obsessed with pinecones. Green pine cones, specifically.
Armed with yellow dishwashing gloves, a rag, a sharp knife, and a Ziploc bag, the 29-year-old Boulderite foraged multiple days a week, collecting Ponderosa pine cones from Mount Sanitas, alpine fir pine cones from Chaos Canyon in Rocky Mountain National Park, Douglas fir pine cones from around the Flatirons, and more.
“We looked like crazy people out there,” he admits of the approximately six-week-long process, which netted about 500 pinecones. (He responsibly only cuts one or two from each tree.) After the head-turning hauls, Harrison did something even more unusual: He cooked the young pinecones sous vide style, steeped them in a homemade cream base, and poured the mixture into popsicle molds. Yes, really.
After much taste testing and recipe tinkering, pinecone vanilla popsicles graced Le Pops’ July menu. And as odd as a pinecone-flavored treat might sound, the citrusy-tasting creation sold well at Harrison’s gourmet dessert shop on Boulder’s west Pearl Street. In fact, Le Pops sold exactly 1,178 pinecone ’sicles over the course of that month.
This philosophy—creativity meets deliciousness—is the magic of Le Pops. With a rotating monthly menu of 10 unique, made-in-house popsicles—including five cream-based flavors and five vegan options (all $3.95), plus a variety of chocolate sauces and toppings to coat them with ($.50 each)—Harrison is challenging assumptions about the traditionally ho-hum popsicle, one lick at a time.
Le Pops was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2012, the brainchild of Harrison’s mother, Laurie. In 2017, the Harrisons sold the original store and opened a Boulder outpost that has since gained a small but growing following.
A self-described “avid cook,” Harrison draws flavor inspiration from sources including cookbooks, Instagram (the pinecone idea came from the feed of René Redzepi, Danish chef and co-owner of Noma, a two-Michelin star restaurant in Copenhagen), cocktails, and even salad toppings.
But you don’t need to be an adventurous eater to enjoy Le Pops. Some of the shop’s best-selling flavors are in line with what you might see in your grocery store’s ice cream section: salted caramel, cookies and cream, banana pudding. Only Le Pops tastes better—a lot better. Think: creamier in texture and richer in flavor. Other fan favorites are slightly more inventive without being intimidating: strawberry buttermilk, peach melba, basil lemonade, horchata, and red velvet cake.
The superior flavor of these products stems, in part, from their high-quality ingredients, which Harrison sources locally whenever possible. The peaches in last month’s peach lemongrass pop, for example, came from Palisade, and herbs (like in the pineapple-cilantro flavor) come from Osage Gardens in New Castle. Le Pops also makes many of its baked ingredients from scratch, like graham cracker crumbs and the cookie and cake bits generously portioned into the popsicle molds.
You’ll need to pay attention to find the almost-hidden Boulder store, though: It sits wedged between Alpine Modern Café and newly opened Boulder Natural Boutique. Even the interior, with its white walls, cement floors, and single display case, is fairly unassuming.
Once you find it and sample the creamy, creative flavors, you’ll find it easy—too easy—to stop in for a treat every time you pass by. While you’re there, look for a tall, lanky redhead buzzing about in the back. That’s likely Harrison. Don’t see him? Well, perhaps he’s off hunting for the Le Pops’ next best ingredient.
If you go: Le Pops is open Sunday–Thursday, 12–9 p.m. and Friday–Saturday, 12–9:30 p.m. (closed Mondays except Memorial Day through Labor Day, when the store is open Mondays 12–9 p.m.). Pro tip: If you’re indecisive or overwhelmed by the flavor options, ask for samples. 1048 Pearl St., Suite 107, Boulder; 303-443-9803