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Healthy Ice Pops

By Joanna Cosgrove | July 1, 2009

The sweet summer confections aren't just for kids anymore.

For kids, a cool, sweet ice pop can be a refreshing respite on a hot summer day. But a new breed of decidedly healthier frozen confections is allowing grownups to enjoy a little guilt free refreshment of their own.

Philippines-based Picolè Healthy Ice Pops markets a line of frozen pops that are both tasty and, as the company's title alludes, healthy. Self-described as a company that "sells foods with functionality," Picolè's pops are comprised of five lines: Juicy Pops, Milky Pops, Yogu Pops (yogurt/fruit blend pops), Dip Pops and Diet Pops. Each pop is loaded with only ripe, fresh fruits bits and fruit juices that are not heat treated in order to preserve the fruit's natural vitamins and minerals. The pops also contain beneficial nutrients like prebiotic and probioitic ingredients, which are derived from natural sources.

The company introduced its unique brand of frozen confections last year and is currently expanding its distribution in the U.S. At the helm of Picolè is a husband and wife team, Cristina and Al Meja, who have 10 years of food processing experience.

Mr. Meja explained that the use of fiber in his ice pop line was a no-brainer given fiber's well-known health benefits. "What compelled us in using prebiotic fiber is that this fiber has a lot of health benefits and we like putting functionality into all our ice pops," he said. "Prebiotic fiber helps balance our digestive flora. The best thing is that in our process the prebiotic fiber does not alter taste but gives you added health benefits."

Picolè's prebiotic fiber source is acacia (trade named Fibergum), which is produced by France-based Colloides Naturels International (CNI). It is GMO free, certified organic and has guaranteed antioxidant activity. It does not exhibit laxative side-effects; rather it behaves as a regulator, reducing diarrhea and risk of constipation. It is 100% vegetable origin and does not present any intestinal side effects.

This fiber is present in all of the company's pops, with each pop containing an average of 3-5 grams of fiber per pop.

Picolè's pop flavors range from the ordinary to the exotic. Juicy Pops are available in seven flavors: Mango, Lemon, Strawberry, Chili Tamarind, Buko (coconut), Watermelon and Pineapple.

Milky Pops span nine flavors: Cappuccino, Cookies and Cream, Strawberry, Corn (sweet corn and skim milk are high in fiber), Green-Tea (100% real, antioxidant-rich Japanese matcha green tea mixed with low fat milk), Ube, Avocado (nutlike flavor of avocado mixed with high protein skim milk and vanilla pod), Choco-Hazelnut (pure alkalized cocoa mixed with real hazelnut) and Melon.

Mr. Meja said his company draws its flavor inspirations from extensive research and through a lot of taste testing. "If we think it tastes good and is healthy, then we launch the flavor," he commented. "We always keep in mind that in the new world we live GOOD TASTE and HEALTH should already be as one. We have technology as our ally [and] are passionate and love our business. Our flavors we get from nature. Whatever the fruit tastes like then that is what the consumer gets."

Mr. Meja said Picolè prides itself on its use of 100% natural ingredients. "Even our Cappuccino Milky is made with brewed coffee not with instant coffee," he noted.

Ice Pops With a Functional Twist

Like Picolè, Integrated Beverage Group (IBG) of Farmingdale, NY, has pushed the bounds of the traditional ice pop by creating new usage occasions for its formulations. The company's Power Ice is formulated to quench and replenish athletes on the playing field, while its Throat Cooler ice pop is intended to soothe sore throats.

Power Ice, according to Michael Densmore, chief marketing officer, is the more functional cousin to traditional ice pops. "Power Ice is a healthier alternative to Ice Pops because it's made with 100% vitamin C, has no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial sweeteners, rehydrates, replenishes electrolytes, and is only 30 calories per pouch," he said. The product is sold in the nutritional section of supermarkets in Lime Kicker and Orange Blast flavors, and is promoted by baseball star Ken Griffey Jr.

Throat Cooler is IBG's new 25 ml "liqui-freeze" ready-to-be-frozen pouch pop, which contains pure honey and vitamin C for the instant cooling and soothing of dry, scratchy, irritated throats. While it's good for adults, it will surely appeal to parents because its non-medicated formulation is great for kids.

With an estimated four million children under the age of 12 receiving treatment with over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold products each week in the U.S., IBG considered the fact that these OTC medicines have recently been under scrutiny by doctors and consumer advocates who believe the products are potentially dangerous for young children due to the risk of overdosing.

Throat Cooler is 100% drug free, safe for children ages 2 and older, and contains 100% of the RDA of vitamin C for children ages 2 and 3 (66% of the RDA for children 4 years and older) to "help support a child's throat health and immune system."

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