King of Pops

Alumnus brings the ice pop business to Georgia with the help of his brothers

King of Pops

Steven Carse

Photo by: Rick O’Quinn

It all started in Central America in 2005. The oldest of three brothers, Ashley Carse, was studying anthropology in Panama when his younger brothers, Steven and Nick, came to visit. They discovered paletas, a Latin American ice pop usually made with fresh fruit. From then on, the brothers talked about bringing the snack to the U.S.

When Steven Carse (ABJ ’06) was laid off from his job at AIG in 2009, he decided it was time to pursue the dream.

“We started to research the business and worked on getting a brand and recipes,” he says.

And so, King of Pops was born. A friend of Carse’s in New York came up with the name around the time Michael Jackson died. While the business doesn’t have anything to do with the late king of pop, Carse says the name made sense so they ran with it.

The first King of Pops cart was on the corner of North Avenue and North Highland Avenue on the east side of Atlanta. About three or four months after Steven started the business, his brother Nick (BBA ’02), who was a lawyer at the time, quit his job to join King of Pops full time.

The company now has four carts in Atlanta, two in Athens, one in Asheville, N.C., and one in Charleston, S.C. King of Pops frozen treats were expected to be sold in Atlanta-area Whole Foods stores beginning in March.

The carts are in business from early April through late October. But hours vary. If it rains, for example, they aren’t open. The company uses social media, like Twitter and Facebook, to keep customers aware of their locations, hours and flavors.

Selling the ice pops on the street promotes community, Carse says.

“People hang out for like 30 minutes not necessarily eating, just talking and hanging out,” he says. “Popsicles are fun, and they’re easier to walk around with than a bowl of ice cream.”

The pops are made fresh daily from local, seasonal fruit grown by state farmers.

“We want to deliver a high-quality product with organic and natural flavors, and we don’t use additional sweeteners or dyes,” Carse says.

The frozen treats are either fruit-based or cream-based. The most popular flavor is chocolate, but more adventurous eaters may prefer raspberry lime, tangerine basil, key lime, peach and coconut. Seasonal favorites include sweet potato soufflé, pumpkin pie and chocolate peppermint in the fall. The pops sell for $2.50 each.

“My favorite is banana pudding, which isn’t as healthy as some,” Carse says. “If I’m being healthy I like the tangerine basil for a daytime snack.”