September 19, 2014

Paletas: From México to the Bay


At Prospera, we carefully deliberated about what product to sell for our first food co-op. We thought about tamales, cookies, mole, and more. We went to farmers markets to see what others were selling, did market research, talked with food industry experts, and even had a tasting event. We chose paletas as our new product for many reasons. They show great promise, they are culturally significant in many Latino communities, and there is a big customer appetite.

With that said, not everyone knows a lot about paletas, so we want to help you get to know our product! Have you ever wondered where the first paletas and popsicles came from?

Eating frozen treats as a dessert in México first started as a result of European, and especially Spanish, influence during the 18th century. However, once Mexico gained its independence, frozen desserts made from ice become something enjoyed by all classes of people for the first time, and machines that made ice started being used in Mexico as well. Now, paleteros, the people who sell paletas, are a staple in Mexican culture. They are seen everywhere, most commonly on the streets pushing paleta carts and ringing their bells. There are even parts of Mexico where profits from ice cream and paleta sales are the main source of income.

The birthplace of the Popsicle in the United States was right here in the Bay Area. It is contested whether the first popsicle appeared in San Francisco or Oakland, but they popped up in the beginning of the 20th century. If you grew up in neighborhoods where an ice cream man or a paletero would pass through selling delicious, frozen treats during the summer, you might have noticed that paletas have changed a lot over the years. Now, you can find all sorts of popsicles ranging from ones in the shape of your favorite super hero, to ones with unexpected flavors like bloody mary or tangerine beet. There seems to be a delicious flavor for everyone’s taste buds!

Prospera asks you to think of us the next time you eat a paleta, and stay tuned for updates on the new Paleta Cooperative, our very own paletas might be coming to a store or market near you!

Paletas are popsicles, traditionally from México, but they have now been tried and tasted across the Americas.
These colorful paletas are from a paletería, or paleta shop, in
 Michoacán, México, a state famous for its paletas.
An advertisement from the early days of commercially made 
popsicles in the United States.