Sweet, Unique & Frozen: Gelato & Ice Pops in the D

By: Toni Cunningham | July 21, 2014
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When looking for a cold refresher on a hot summer day, it’s only natural to turn to an ice cream cone. If only there were a way to cool down with fewer calories! While I have never been to Italy to sample some authentic gelato, I can tell you that the gelato I’ve had ‘round these parts makes me want to buy a plane ticket immediately. Gelato, delicious, creamy gelato, is less of a diet crusher than ice cream because it has a lower fat content, and fun fact; it also contains less air (thus, is thicker and creamier).

How many summers did you spend as a kid with a cherry Popsicle melting down your wrist? While you might find the run of the mill freezer pop a bit childish as an adult, perhaps your sophisticated palate will be drawn to a locally made one. Check out these local ice pop and gelato makers below and get ready to cool off!

Ice Pops 

Alegria Pops Detroit is a locally based company that handcrafts paletas, or Mexican ice pops. They’re made from scratch using fresh ingredients, and proprietor Ofelia Saenz, a Detroit native, concocts unique flavors that are a far cry from the red, orange and purple box variety you’ll find in a supermarket.

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If you come across an Alegria pop pop-up event, you’ll have the chance to indulge in flavors like Mango-Coconut with Mexican Chili Salt, Sour Cherry Tamarind (made with Michigan cherries), Café Con Leche, Blueberry Citrus Crème, Marzipan-Dusted Strawberry Rhubarb and Avocado Lemon Buttermilk.

Keep an eye on the Alegria Facebook page to see where Saenz and her treats are popping up next!

The Detroit Pop Shop is a gourmet handcrafted ice pop company that can be found all around the Metro Detroit area. Flavors are always changing and rotating, and nothing is off limits. The Detroit Pop Shop often incorporates Michigan made and locally produced ingredients into its products, so you can enjoy your refreshing snack a little bit more with that in mind.

The majority of ice pops are vegan, all natural, gluten free and even sugar free, upon request. Flavors you might find enticing are Faygo Red Pop Float, Cantaloupe Mint, Grapefruit Habanero, Strawberry Balsamic and Watermelon Basil. For those of you 21 and over, this shop is licensed to produce and market alcoholic popsicles, so keep that in mind as well.

This summer’s permanent locations include Eastern Market, The Rust Belt Market, Detroit’s Parker Street Market, City Bird Market and Northwest Detroit Farmers Market. Check out the official website for dates and times for each location.

Detroit Lix, another local handcrafted ice pop company, can be found at various Metro Detroit farmers markets, as well as The Detroit Zoo, Eastern Market and Belle Isle. The pops are made with fresh ingredients (mostly fruit) and come in traditional icy flavors as well as some creamier varieties.

New inventive flavors are always being added to the rotating menu, but previous and popular varieties include Strawberry Mango, Cherry Lemonade, Mango Blue, Orange Vanilla Cream, Vanilla Bean Butter Pecan and Blueberry Cream.

Take a peek at Detroit Lix on Facebook for updated flavors and locations.


Cantoro Italian Market, 15550 N. Haggerty Rd., Plymouth, serves gelato that is made fresh daily using ingredients imported from Italy. You can enjoy some in the café while you’re shopping, or take it home for later. However, there’s a very high chance you’ll eat it in the car on the way home and it will never see the inside of your freezer, it’s that good.

Try the tiramisu flavor and you won’t be sorry. If you’re in need of a caffeine boost, try the Crema Gelato, a beverage that combines coffee, gelato and alcohol (it can also be served non-alcoholic, but where’s the fun in that?).

Melt, 4150 Cass Ave., Detroit, is a gelato parlor right in Midtown. You can try one of those aforementioned coffee/melted gelato drink concoctions here, or just enjoy some creamy gelato in flavors like Vanilla, Mint Mojito or Roasted Pistachio.

If you enjoy both gelato and house music, you’ll want to head to Melt on Tuesdays between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. for Sweet Beats at Melt, when local DJs will spin techno for a few hours.

Iorio’s Gelateria, 522 E. William St., Ann Arbor, is likely the most authentic gelato shop you’ll find in Southeast Michigan. I mean, c’mon, it’s called a gelateria. Each flavor is made with real ingredients, many of which are local, and several flavors are dairy-free and vegan.

The flavor board is never constant, but you’ll find varieties like Venezuelan Dark Chocolate, Strawberry Pie, Green Tea, Banana Nutella, Salty Chocolate with Pretzels and Limoncello Cheesecake.

There you have it, Metro Detroiters! Plenty of ways to beat the summer heat in the D.