Johnny’s Pops Food Cart (Gourmet/Artisan Popsicles in Vancouver)

Restaurant: Johnny’s Pops
Cuisine: Popsicles/Desserts/Food Cart
Last visited: June 13, 2013
Location: Vancouver, BC
Address: Location varies – Follow @JohnnysPops for updates
Usually at Athletes Village (120 Athletes Way) in front of Tap and Barrel,
along the Seawall, Granville Island, or at Food Cart Festivals
Transit: n/a
Phone: (604) 700-2169
Price range: $10 or less

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4
Service: n/a
Ambiance: n/a
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Opened May 2013
  • Food cart powered by bike
  • Owner/Popsicle maker Johnny
  • Handmade artisan popsicles
  • All natural/no preservatives
  • Made with raw organic cane sugar
  • Fresh fruit puree
  • Kid friendly
  • Delivery available
  • Online ordering available
  • Weather permitting operation
  • Monday to Friday: 3 p.m to 7 p.m.
  • Twitter: @JohnnysPops

**Recommendations: Avocado Lime, Apricot Salted Caramel, Blueberry Cardamom

Johnny's Pops (1)Photo from Johnny’s website.

I’m more of an ice cream girl than a popsicle girl, but these were pretty convincing. I haven’t explored the popsicle scene in Vancouver much and to be honest nobody was doing anything exciting with them until now. It is hard to impress with a popsicle since it is often the first thing we learn to make as kids, but these were popsicles even adults could appreciate. As an adult I wouldn’t feel guilty for giving it to a kid either since they’re far better than the sugar filled popsicles with artificial flavours available at the grocery store (with the exception of fancy organic grocery stores). Anyways, Johnny’s Pops is Vancouver’s first artisan popsicle food cart.

With no culinary experience besides researching and recipe testing popsicles, Johnny Wikkerink decided to jump straight into the food truck business – well sort of. Rather than a food truck, Johnny invested in a fully functional bike cart which is one of the very few in Vancouver. Powered by Johnny’s leg power he pedals around the city selling his handmade artisan popsicles.

His inspiration to start a food cart business only started January this year when he took a class at Trade School Vancouver called “How to come up with a good idea”. After a sleepless night he realized his most enjoyable way of making a living would be selling handmade popsicles, so off to work he went.

Johnny's Pops (4)He wanted to make a treat with simple wholesome ingredients that was still exciting and fun. He pursued painting and crafts for a few years so exercising his creative side was always important. He decided to stop mixing paints and start mixing popsicle recipes and thus he created “Johnny’s Pops” – Vancouver’s first artisan popsicle food cart powered by bike.

I haven’t visited his bike yet, but he was kind enough to send me a delivery of his popsicles which comes packaged in dry ice and a styrofoam box.

Johnny’s Pops opened May 2013 and will be open to September on sunny days at 120 Athletes Way in the Athlete’s village. He is usually in one of two places, either outside of Granville Island or at the Olympic Village. Make sure to check the website, Street Food App, Twitter (@johnnyspops) or Facebook (Johnny’s Pops) to see which location Johnny has gone to.

On the table:

Johnny's Pops (6)Johnny’s Popsicles (All Natural)

  • $42 for a dozen ($3.50 each)
  • At $3.50 a pop it’s almost the same price as a generic one from an ice cream truck nowadays.
  • It is a bit pricey for a popsicle, but considering the ingredients and manpower involved (one man operation) I can understand.
  • His popsicle flavours are sophisticated and his flavour combinations are rather upscale. It’s nothing you’ll likely find at a regular grocery store.
  • He grew up in the valley on a dairy farm in Agassiz, BC and uses locally sourced ingredients whenever he can.
  • He uses fresh and seasonal fruits, makes his own purees, and even grows his own rhubarb and elderflower for his Rhubarb and Elderflower popsicle.
  • All his popsicles have only 2-3 tsp of raw organic cane sugar too so they’re not too sweet.
  • I think it would be great to offer some sugar free versions as well, although sometimes fruit needs a bit of sugar to bring out their flavours.
  • While I enjoyed these popsicles, I think it’s the beginning of the artisan popsicle scene in Vancouver and there is still room for more and better.
  • Many of these are fruit based and a bit repetitive, so I can’t wait for other flavours.
  • Strawberry Balsamic Basil Popsicle3.5/6 (Good-Very good)
    • It was made with local strawberries and I could taste the fresh strawberry puree and texture.
    • I could taste the balsamic in the aftertaste, but I lost the basil.
    • I could taste the mild infusion of basil if I looked for it, but the strawberry was most obvious.
  • Raspberry Lime Popsicle 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)
    • It was bright, citrusy and tart and it tasted like what it was.
    • The lime zest was strong which I liked and it wasn’t too sour.
    • The flavour didn’t jump out at me as anything really interesting so it wouldn’t be my normal flavour preference.
  • **Apricot Caramel Popsicle 5/6 (Excellent)
    • I think he made this into an apricot salted caramel now which sounds even better to me.
    • This was my favourite and it’s because I like creamier popsicles. They’re closer to ice cream.
    • This was still a popsicle and not ice cream, but the fresh apricot puree was thick and creamy which I loved.
    • The apricot puree with the caramel was a match made in heaven and their textures and colours played right into each other.
    • It wasn’t too sweet, but it was one of his richer popsicles.
    • I liked the sweet and tart balance between the caramel and apricot.
    • This could have used some vanilla bean to make it even better.

Johnny's Pops (2)

  • **Blueberry Cardamom Popsicle 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)
    • It was made with local blueberries from the Fraser Valley.
    • It was really obvious what the flavour combination was, which is great.
    • The cardamom was pretty strong, but I love cardamom so I didn’t mind. I’m not sure how kids would like it though.
    • It was a bit sweet for me, but I think for the majority it would be okay.
    • It was quite refreshing and I would love even more blueberry puree because it was a bit icy, but I still liked it the way it was.
  • Rhubarb Elderflower Popsicle – 3/6 (Good)
    • Again, he grows his own rhubarb and elderflower for this popsicle.
    • This was the most refreshing of the bunch and it was light, mild and the least sweet.
    • It was a bit tart, but I wouldn’t be able to guess the flavour without knowing.
    • The elderflower was quite mild and I wouldn’t mind it stronger.
    • This would make for a great palate cleanser.
  • **Avocado Lime Popsicle 5.5/6 (Excellent!)
    • This is a signature and it was my favourite of the ones I tried.
    • I knew I would like it since I love avocado in desserts.
    • It has no resemblance to guacamole, but frozen avocado barely tastes like avocado anyways.
    • Avocado in desserts creates a buttery, smooth and creamy texture and flavour.
    • It was still sweet and not savoury and the lime made it pop and kept it from turning brown.
    • It was another one that was richer and closer to ice cream in texture, which is also why I preferred it.
    • It would be even better made with coconut milk.
    • It is a pleasant surprise for those who are skeptical of the idea.
    • I also recommend the Avocado Semifreddo at The Parker.
  • Blueberry Mojito Popsicle 4/6 (Very good)
    • This is Johnny’s personal favourite and it is made with local blueberries from the Fraser Valley.
    • It is still kid friendly and I couldn’t taste any alcohol and likely there isn’t any. I’d ask if it’s a concern though.
    • It was the most floral of the bunch due to the mint and perhaps basil infusion.
    • It was refreshing from the mint and lime and I liked the aromatics, but I didn’t really think “Mojito” right away.
    • It was still very good, but I would like it better as a committed adult version… with rum.

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