Record scratch. Yeah, that's a pickle popsicle—Tickle My Pickle, to name it correctly. It's vegan, as are all the popsicles and paletas from southeast Portland's inventive icy treat shoppe Ice Queen.
After running a series of successful pop-ups for years, vegan ice cream maker Rebecca Smith arrived at the vegan mini mall on SE Stark mid-summer of 2020. She took over Scapegoat Tattoo's storefront, just as Food Fight closed their southeast location and left the neighborhood with a frozen vegan soft serve power vacuum.
Ice Queen pops are much better than soft serve, and contain worlds of variety. Smith makes her treats with an assortment of non-dairy milks. Her She's In Parties birthday cake bar uses soymilk to creamy up its base. The Rocky Road mixes chocolate, almonds, and marshmallow into oat milk to achieve a rich approximation of the famous ice cream flavor. And the piña colada is, of course, made with pineapple juice and coconut cream.
The shoppe's waterbase bars are likewise statement-making. The Watermelon Tajin pairs that sweet summer fruit with the emblematic Mexican chili lime seasoning for a flavor combination that's both assertive and refreshing. The lime paleta even comes with a small bottle of Tajin, intended for multiple applications.
Other past creations from Smith include grapefruit and lemon bars containing flower petals from Good Rain Farms and the Mangonada, which married smooth frozen mango with the complex salty/sweet flavors of chamoy. Smith is Chicana and Indigenous, and likes to work both with locally-sourced ingredients and flavors that speak to her cultural experience.
Smith often refers to her Oatchada pop—a mix of cinnamon and oatmilk—as "the popsicle that built it all." It lives up to the buzz. But I keep coming back for all the experiments. For instance, Smith keeps putting stuff inside the bars!
The Tickle My Pickle bar had a full blown dill spear frozen in there. I had my reservations, but the tastes really worked. The salty brine never wavered in its vinegar deliciousness, and that dill wedge surprise had me engaged right down to the personalized Ice Queen popsicle stick.
For now, Ice Queen still feels like a popsicle start-up occupying a former tattoo shop, but Smith muses about one day having a full blown parlor to host her vegan inventions. You can also find Ice Queen bars at local spots like Coffee Beer and Green Zebra Grocery. New flavors are frequently posted to Ice Queen's Instagram. So if you're vegan and you want some newness—even if you aren't vegan honestly—keep an eye on what Ice Queen has coming down the luge.
Ice Queen, 1223 SE Stark, icequeenyouscream.com