Vegan popsicle shop ‘Ice Queen’ thrives during pandemic

AM Extra

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — From pina colada to pickle-flavored popsicles, Ice Queen in Southeast Portland is serving up more than the traditional ice cream parlor. Owner Rebecca Smith is the creative force behind Ice Queen, a vegan paleteria – popsicle shop.

“We have Watermelon Sour Patch, the classics like Rocky Road and Cookies & Cream, Toasted Coconut… We also have Tickle my Pickle, which is a pickle popsicle,” Smith said. “Everything we make at Ice Queen is vegan… we use milk alternatives and also organic sugar.”

Smith founded Ice Queen in 2018, making her dream of opening a vegan food business a reality. She started by selling her popsicles at pop-ups, and then last July– after the pandemic hit– established a walk-up window service on Southeast Stark Street.

“The plus side about the pandemic for us was that a lot of people still wanted sweets, and so we were able to open without a lot, and it was socially acceptable to open with the window as opposed to having a fully built out store… but we’re working on that now,” she said

Smith said this year she plans to build out the space and open a full-scale ice cream shop. Since setting up the window service, she’s sold more than 40,000 popsicles in just the last year.

“We get people coming from like Eugene and Ashland and Bend and it’s really awesome to be a part of something that like – I know I’m on the Internet but it’s surreal when people come in and are like, ‘Oh yeah, this is one of my stops while I was making my trip to Portland,'” she said. “It’s been really amazing and even our wholesale side of the business, aside from the store, is also growing rapidly. Right now, we’re in a dozen stores. We just got into the Portland International Airport recently.”

The Native and Chicana specialty popsicle business CEO said Ice Queen is an extension of who she is.

“Ice Queen is popsicles, yes– and that’s like the simple version of it, but for me, it’s another way of exploring like a Chicano identity and you’ll see that coming through in the branding,” Smith said. “Doing unique flavors is a also way for me to also explore that identity and bring my touch.”

Ice Queen serves paleta– Mexican ice-pop– flavors including, Mangonada with chamoy, a sweet/salty sauce and Watermelon with Tajin, chile-lime seasoning. ,

Smith also partners with other local vegan businesses to create sweet treats, including the ‘She’s in Parties,’ birthday cake ice cream bar — which is a sweet treat collab with Shoofly Vegan Bakery.

“It’s just a really cool way to help two businesses and also be a part of the community,” Smith added.

Ice Queen, located at 1223 SE Stark St., is open Friday and Saturday from 12-7 p.m. and Sunday 12-6 p.m.

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