To take a bite out of Island Pops’s soursop ice cream is to briefly forget you’re in the middle of New York City and not on a tropical island. The ice cream is cool, incredibly creamery, almost like eating a banana but with a sour citrus flavor with notes of pineapple. For Island Pop’s founder and co-owner Shelly Hamid it’s the comforting taste of home.
“When you taste it, if you’ve been to Trinidad on your honeymoon with your husband or you’re from Trinidad it reminds you of that,” Hamid said.
A few years ago, Hamid who is from Trinidad, was sick and craving soursop ice cream. After her husband, Khalid, couldn’t find it anywhere in Brooklyn he got an ice cream machine and tried to make it.
“It was awful,” Hamid recalled. “But it was the thought that counted.”
That thought led the two of them to get much better at making the ice cream and start making it for family and friends who urged them to sell it. They put together a business plan, started working out of Brooklyn Foodworks and in addition to ice cream, began making and selling popsicles and shaved ice for Caribbean festivals, community parties and fêtes.
“The passionfruit, guava, soursop, all those flavors we grew up on I wanted to make pops with those flavors because I want my kids to have that experience,” Hamid said.
That was nearly two years ago and now Island Pops has expanded to home delivering ice cream pints and ice pops throughout Brooklyn and the rest of New York City (learn more on their website). Khalid recently left his job to run the business full-time, the pair is looking to move out of Brooklyn Foodworks to their own production facility and recently began making alcoholic ice pops, such as sangria.
They hand make all the syrups used for the ice cream, popsicles and shaved ice, sourcing the ingredients from a Brooklyn speciality shop on Nostrand Avenue that imports much of the fruit from Guyana.
“I get to make ice cream every day, I don’t think anyone can say there is a happier day,” Hamid said.