In 1905, An 11-Year-Old Boy Accidentally Invented One of the Most Popular Frozen Treat of the Modern Age
In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson of San Francisco, California, accidentally invented the Popsicle.
It was a chilly evening when Frank decided to make himself a soft drink. He mixed water and soda powder and stirred it with a wooden stirring stick... but somehow, he forgot about his drink and left it on the porch.
When he woke up the next morning, his drink was frozen with the wooden stir stick stuck in it. He ran the glass under hot water and licked the frozen treat off the wooden stir stick. He had just invented a new treat which he named the Epsicle.
The next summer he sold the treat around his neighborhood for five cents a piece. He patented the Epsicle later in 1923 under the name frozen ice on a stick, later he would change the name to Popsicles.
Unfortunately, he was forced to sell his rights to the treat to the Joe Lowe Co. since he was broke and needed to liquidate all his assets to stay afloat. “I was flat and had to liquidate all my assets,” he recalled years later. “I haven’t been the same since.”
The Joe Lowe Co. took the Popsicle to national fame. They added a second stick during the Great Depression making it even more popular than before. The company even changed their name to the Popsicle Corporation.
They faced competition from Good Humor, which sells chocolate-covered ice cream on a stick. Good Humor sued the Joe Lowe Company for copyright infringement. After a series of lawsuits, the court decided that the Lowe Company could sell frozen treats made from water while Good Humor could continue to sell its ice cream.
In 1989 Unilever purchased the Popsicle brand and later also Good Humor, putting an end to the feud between the two companies. Unilever now sells around 2 billion Popsicles each year.