One of the casualties in America's growing war against chemically laden, ultra-processed food is the bliss from being ignorant about what exactly is in some of our favorite vittles. Take, for example, frozen dessert pops — what most of us call Popsicles. According to Atlanta-based photographer/food purveyor TT Coles, these cold snacks probably aren't the healthiest things to stick in your mouth.
Via her three-month-old company PopArt By TT Coles, the Pennsylvania native is on a mission to replace that Popsicle of your youth with her own brand of handcrafted, gourmet vegan pops.
To get down to the nitty-gritty, CL caught up with Coles about her new line of treats — along with what's so bad about one of our most beloved delectables.
You've made a name for yourself in the city as a photographer. What made you want to start making dessert pops?
Photography, for the past year or so, has been my sole income. I got laid off from the last job I was working [planning events at a synagogue] and kicked my photography into full gear. But I knew that I needed another source of income. I actually played around with a couple of ideas. At one point I was gonna do smoothies. I had some health issues [fibroid tumors], and since then I learned to change my diet and started juicing and blending a whole lot more. And then a good friend of mine had a baby, and I thought, "Maybe I'll do organic baby food." In the meantime, while I was playing around with the baby food idea, I started making Popsicles — 'cause I wanted Popsicles. I had a friend who came over and said, "You know what? I would buy this. Like, it's that good." So, I started making more and I took some over to my parents' house. My mother has a completely different palate than mine; we don't like the same stuff at all. So when I took it to her and she loved it, I was like, "Maybe I am on to something." It's been full-steam ahead since then.
What makes your vegan pops different than regular pops?
Well, the Popsicles you grew up [eating] ... what's in 'em? You know that red Popsicle you loved so much [as a kid]? What's making it red?
Err ... I don't know.
I don't, either! That's just it. With my pops, it is what it says it is. Everything that's supposed to be there is there. I use all-natural, organic ingredients — local whenever possible — down to my sugar compound. So, in a world of high fructose corn syrup and confusing terms, there's nothing confusing about my pops.
What kinds of flavors do you offer?
I have water lemon mint, hot chocolate, Key lime Pie, spiced pear, orange coconut creamsicle, coconut lemongrass, and I also have the avocado vanilla, which is amazing. That's one where I felt like I needed to have a disclaimer saying, "Don't be afraid of the avocado." My catchphrase is "Avocados aren't just for guacamole anymore!" We have a tendency to think of the avocado as a savory vegetable, but it's a fruit. With its creamy texture, it works so well.
You seem very adept in the kitchen. Where did you get those skills?
Well, I'm not a chef by any means. This is all part of me just being a creative person. I don't see myself opening a restaurant. These are things that I like so I'm able to share.
Where can people find your pops?
Right now people can get them directly from me. There's contact information on my website. You can find them at Dulce Vegan and Noodle in Decatur. I'm actually still out here on foot trying to find more places that would be interested in selling them.
OK, that said, what do you have planned for the future?
This time next year, I wanna have a much bigger presence in the city than I do now. So, maybe [I'll have] a couple of carts for vending, maybe some catering. And I would actually like to not just have patronage from typically vegan and organic folks. I would like for people to know that it's not a term that you have to be afraid of. Just because it doesn't have milk and eggs, it's still full of flavor.
For more information about TT Coles' dessert pops, visit PopArtByTTColes.com.
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