Words by Jennifer Hazard
Technicolor Frozen Treats
Photography by Winky Lewis
Wicked Maine Pops Delight the Eyes and Please the Palate
Chef Abby Freethy is always brainstorming what she wants to be when she grows up. Right now, she’s thinking about her newest venture, Wicked Maine Pops.
The Greenville entrepreneur founded Northwoods Gourmet Girl in 2005 to produce ketchup, preserves, and pantry staples using healthy ingredients. While business was great, she was ready for a new creative outlet.
The inspiration for Wicked Maine Pops came after a breast cancer diagnosis in 2015. During treatment, Freethy was struck by the lack of tasty nutrition available to patients. “All I wanted was something soothing and delicious to make me feel better,” she says. Her idea was born as a sensory remedy to the “awful-tasting, metallic red elixir of chemotherapy.”
When her health improved, Freethy ramped up her popsicle business, making frozen treats from fruit and cream rather than artificial flavors and sugar water. She took a few favorites to New York City’s Fancy Food Show—including Upta Camp, a fudgy concoction with bits of graham cracker and toasted marshmallow, and a redcurrant and elderflower popsicle—and crushed it. Freethy then carted a freezer full of pops to The Big E, an agricultural fair in Western Massachusetts. Knowing fairgoers like unique snacks, she brought along the Unicorn Pop, made with lemon and blueberry juice and blended to create a pink swirl that sparkles with sprinkles and sugar pearls in the mix. It was an instant hit.
Freethy says she’s a berry girl. “I love a light, raspberry and lemon cream pop on a hot day. It’s great paired with a margarita.” She’s also partial to her Tangerine Creamsicle and a cream, vanilla bean, and local honey treat she calls the Bees Knees.
While many customers favor classic flavors like strawberry lemonade and Maine blueberry, Freethy is open to requests. “When I pull the pops out of the mold, the first time I see a flavor I’ve created, it’s such a great feeling,” she says.
And those creations are adventurous. She tested a maple cream, cracked pepper, and bacon pop and named it Ingrid Did It, after her 18-year-old niece. For special events, Freethy will make a pop inspired by a grilled pineapple, vanilla, and pink peppercorn dessert she had as a student at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in 2002.
She seeks out seasonal ingredients; sources goat cheese from Turning Page Farm, a small dairy in Monson, for her rich and creamy Strawberry Goat Cheese pop; and buys her birch popsicle sticks from Hardwood Products in Guilford. A regular vendor at the Saturday farmers market in Belfast, she’ll pick up new ingredients like fresh mint and melon that appeal to her whims.
One of the first places to carry Wicked Maine Pops was Tiller & Rye, a local grocery store in Brewer. Her products are distributed in central Maine by Dennis Paper & Food Service and in Southern Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts by Northeast Specialty Foods. Employees like her 15-year-old son Dustin will be slinging pop from pushcarts at venues like Farm + Table in Kennebunkport and the York Beach Surf Club. As if making the pops were not enough work, Freethy is busy transforming an old horse trailer into the perfect vehicle for displaying her colorful array of popsicles. She’s decorating it in a way that will remind customers just how fun these refreshing treats are.