Michelle Weaver is the owner of Meltdown (4011 St. Claude Ave., 504-301-0905; www.meltdownpops.com), a gourmet ice pop shop in Bywater. Michelle spoke to Gambit about novelty frozen pops, how paletas inspire her and plans for soft-serve ice cream.
When did you begin making frozen pops?
Weaver: I started selling [ice pops] in 2008 in Los Angeles. I bought an ice cream truck and just started selling [ice pops] around town. I wasn't bold enough to sell my own freshly made [ice pops] at first, so I was selling the novelty pops like SpongeBob SquarePants and other cartoon characters that you can usually get from an ice cream truck. When we moved here, I decided to take the [ice pops] I made fresh with us to sell. It was really funny, because no one wanted the novelty [ice pops], they wanted my freshly made ones. The first one I made — strawberry-basil — sold out very quickly.
I'm very inspired by Mexican paletas — [ice pops] with super-fresh ingredients like herbs and fruit — that you could get all over Los Angeles, but you couldn't really get here at the time. We set up our first brick-and-mortar shop in 2009 in the French Quarter, and we moved to the spot we're in now on St. Claude last May, when we realized we had a strong enough local following to be away from a tourist-heavy section of town.
What's your favorite flavor?
W: The most popular flavors are the creamy [ice pops]: salted caramel, horchata, chocolate sea salt with olive oil. The blueberry, lavender and coconut milk one is also a big seller, but the pineapple-cilantro is my personal favorite. We really have a lot of fresh, unusual combinations that appeal to a local audience.
Do you have other frozen treats you'd like to make?
W: I really want to make my own soft-serve ice cream. I think it would be really popular, especially in a creamy flavor like salted caramel, and no one is really doing that right now. I want to serve it as a dipped cone — make my own chocolate, maybe roll it in some curried coconut. I think it would be great.