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Top of the pops
Dont just cool down with these treats let the tropical flavors take you to a Mexican beach
Jazmine Medrano, 15, left, and Priscilla Medrano, 11, eat frozen pops at La Mejor de Michoacán in Gainesville.

When most of use think of an ice cream popsicle, we think of a plain chocolate or vanilla pop dipped in chocolate.

But at La Mejor de Michoacán, they take their ice cream popsicles - and their ice cream - very seriously.

The milk and water-based pops come in all colors of the rainbow - pinks, bright greens, oranges and even blues.

Some are adorned with whole strawberries and some are dipped in sweetened chocolate, then rolled in nuts or sprinkles.

Heavy-duty sticks specially ordered from Mexico are used to hold up the ice cream treats.

"We import those from Mexico because of the size and the thickness," said Perla Medrano, co-owner of the ice cream shop. "Because the popsicle sticks that we could find here would break easy."

She also said the strawberries and other adornments are added to the popsicles "to help us to distinguish what it is."

"Like the raisins on the bottom to tell the difference in the pops," Medrano said.

In Spanish, the ice cream popsicles are called pasteles and Manuel Pedrano, Perla's husband, brought the frozen treats to Gainesville from Michoacán, Mexico, six years ago this month.

The couple has two shops on Atlanta Highway that sell about 30 flavors of ice cream and 40 varieties of frozen pops.

The store, which goes through about 15 to 20 cases of milk per week, does specialize in some American favorites such as strawberry cheesecake, cookies and cream and chocolate chip. But flavors like lime, coconut, mango, rice and pineapple show a coastal Mexico flare.

"We have to adapt because we don't have all of the fruit here that you get out there," Medrano said. "Especially in the state of Georgia. If we were in California it would be totally different because you get totally different fruits, they would be more tropical."

Medrano said it's hard to say what the favorite flavors are because "it all depends on what they are craving."

Priscilla Medrano, daughter of Perla and Manuel who will be a sixth-grader at C.W. Davis Middle in the fall, said her favorite flavor is cookies and cream.

In all the flavors, Medrano takes pride in offering all-natural and fresh ingredients.

The water-based treats are nothing more than juice, sugar and water mixed in an ice cream maker until hard. The milk-based flavors are made up of 14 percent milk, quality ingredients like chocolate, fresh fruit and all-natural Mexican vanilla, among other ingredients.

She said all of the fruit comes from a market in Forrest Park, but when using fruit there have been some hits and misses.

"We did one that had a blueberry and blackberry and it just tasted like the milk," Perla Medrano said. "Your strawberries, your bananas - all those that have a strong taste - those are better for the popsicles; the others taste bland."

A treat that La Mejor de Michoacán serves up regularly are chocolate-covered bananas, or chocobananos. The fruit is covered in chocolate and some have sprinkles for an extra sugary treat.

"Those are real simple," Medrano said. "First you have to put the stick in and then you freeze the banana and dip it in the chocolate."

Medrano added that chocolate that hardens quick is the best option.

Just across the parking lot from La Mejor de Michoacán is Nueva Centro Americana, which specializes in Mexican products, food and novelties.

The chocolate bananas are sold at Nueva Centro Americana and made by owner Angela Romero. The shop also sells the popsicle sticks and the chocolate used for dipping.

The chocolate called Chocomelher Clasico, which sells for about $3, is shipped in from El Salvador, and Romero said the chocolate hardens quickly for perfect dipping. She recommends freezing the bananas for two days before dipping.

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