Sound the trumpets! The King of Pops has landed in the Queen City with a tasty decree: handmade popsicles for everyone.
With summer just around the corner, the arrival of King of Pops is right on time. You can now find the royal push cart with its rainbow-colored umbrella parked on street corners across the city, selling whimsical flavors that translate to happiness on a stick.
King of Pops first launched in Atlanta, Ga., where brothers Steven and Nick Carse began a cult following in hipster neighborhoods of the ATL after a 2006 backpacking trip, where they were introduced to Mexican-style paletas, or Latin American ice pops. The brothers launched King of Pops (KOP) in spring 2010. After just three years in business, their product is a fixture on the Atlanta food scene, and KOP has spread its empire across state lines — to Charleston, Richmond, Chattanooga, Athens and now Charlotte.
The Charlotte operation, which hit the streets a little more than a month ago, is spearheaded by the boyish Neil Ringer. Think Dennis the Menace meets Robin, Boy Wonder. Ringer grew up in Davidson; his claim to fame is that he was the very first employee for KOP in Atlanta. There, Ringer learned the ropes of pop-making, production and creating flavors during the meteoric rise of pop culture in Atlanta.
When KOP started talking expansion, Ringer jumped at the chance to bring pops here. He paired up with Charlotte native Brandon DeCurtins, his lawful sidekick. No, really. DeCurtins is a lawyer by day.
"I didn't know popsicles and Neil didn't know Charlotte," DeCurtins says.
The two moved into NoDa, off 26th Street and North Davidson, into a warehouse that they promptly painted. You can't miss the massive, colorful mural of a popsicle wearing a crown. KOP neighbors two breweries: NoDa Brewing Company and Birdsong Brewing Company.
At KOP headquarters, Ringer heads up the pop-making, which includes seasonal creations like grapefruit mint, strawberry rhubarb and the popular perennial pop, chocolate sea salt. KOP Charlotte aims for local and has already partnered with providers like Homeland Creamery to source ingredients close to home. Ringer's philosophy is simplicity mixed with fanciful creativity — most pops don't have more than three ingredients.
KOP has plans to join forces with local businesses to create new pop flavors. A coffee pop is currently in the works with the cold brew concentrate from Central Coffee, a regular KOP corner spot.
You may have already seen KOP out and about. After one short month, it seems these guys have found their way into the coolest spots in town. Catch them at the Davidson Farmers Market every Saturday, Chow Down Uptown and the Green Market on 7th Street, Central Coffee and chilling in the 'hood every Wednesday for the NoDa Brewing Run Club.
Expect to see carts multiplying as the pop phenomenon catches on. Success is imminent. People love pops.
Correction: In a previous version of this story, we misidentified Neil Ringer's alma mater. We apologize for this error.