If you would like to enjoy a creamy frozen treat but can’t—or prefer not to—eat dairy, you’ll want to check out the new oat milk varieties from Minnesota’s own JonnyPops. The vegan desserts are also gluten free and, like all varieties in the brand’s line of frozen treats, made with just a few natural ingredients.
The creators like to call JonnyPops a “smoothie-on-a-stick” because real cream is one of the first ingredients to give them a smooth texture, and the oat milk varieties also offer this creamy texture in a non-dairy option. Also new this summer, each box of JonnyPops contains four pops instead of the three offered in previous packaging. They come in five fruit flavors, three creamy delights and three chocolate-dipped delights.
I had never tried JonnyPops, so when a company rep reached out to see if I would like to sample the new offerings I rose to the “challenge.” I called upon my taste-testing assistants—my 12-year-old son Alex, and eight-year-old son Miles—to help me out. They were more than willing.
In addition to the three oat milk flavors currently available—chocolate, mango and strawberry, we received samples of a few flavors made with dairy cream—Chocolate-Dipped Cherries, Chocolate Fudge Pop, Old-Fashioned Root Beer Float and Summer Strawberries.
We started with the dairy cream samples. They were definitely creamy with bites of real fruit in the mix like a “smoothie on a stick.” The coating on the Chocolate-Dipped Cherries gave a nice little crunch and sweetness to the creamy cherry—Alex said it tastes good with little chunks of cherries dipped in chocolate.
The Old-Fashioned Root Beer Float pop has an outer coating of mild root beer over an interior that tastes like vanilla ice cream. He said that if you lick off the outer coating you then just taste vanilla interior, so if you want the two flavors together keep that in mind for enjoying your root beer float on a stick.
The Summer Strawberries was a tasty creamy mix that provided bits of strawberries. The Chocolate Fudge pop was rich, creamy and chocolaty and tasted like a classic fudge pop but with a clean melt in the mouth—nice to know it was made with just a handful of natural ingredients and nothing we couldn’t pronounce.
It was helpful to have started with the dairy cream pops for comparison to the new oat milk varieties. While made with oat milk, the pops all still had a creamy texture similar to the dairy cream pops. The ingredient list includes canola oil to lend some body to the oat milk mix. The fruit flavors taste like you’re getting a bite of real strawberries or mango—because you are—and the chocolate has a delicious chocolaty flavor with a creamy texture. All of the flavors we tried were tasty, with our favorite being the chocolate in both dairy cream and oat milk formulas. “Tastes like deliciousness,” says Miles. Also new this season for a limited run, is an ice pop option Red White & Boom!, with red, white and blue layers similar to a classic patriotic pop but made with certified organic ingredients including cherry juice, cane sugar and purified water. The boys gobbled these up and Alex says they were up there as a favorite with the chocolate pops.
Co-founders Erik Brust and Connor Wray started JonnyPops as college students in 2011, using blenders and real fruit in their dorm rooms to create flavor combinations. After they perfected their formula and manufacturing in a commercial kitchen, their first big sale in the summer of 2012 was to the Minnesota Zoo. Now this local company has more than 15,000 distribution points across the nation, and is available at many local grocery stores as well as Target, Walmart, Cub Foods, Costco and Sam’s Club.
The pops are named for Brust’s cousin Jonathan, or “Jonny,” one of the original founders, who sadly passed away following a struggle with addiction when he was only 21. The company honors him and remembers the impact he had, each year donating a portion of proceeds in his name to nonprofit organizations that support addiction recovery.
Since the humble beginnings, the founders’ mission has always been “to make the world a better place, one pop at a time.” In honor of their namesake, each JonnyPops stick is printed with a good deed to help share a little kindness. JonnyPops also supplies more than 12 million pops annually in school cafeterias around the country, giving kids a Smart-Snack approved lunch menu option as well as partnership in the Conversations in Kindness program. The program, launched in 2019, brings to life the good deeds printed on each JonnyPops stick through an interactive curriculum, teaching kids the importance of sharing kindness with the goal of sharing 20 million good deeds in 2020.
All JonnyPops are peanut-, tree nut-, and gluten-free, as well as kosher-certified. They range from 90 calories for the Summer Strawberries (with 5 grams fat) or 100 calories for Raspberries & Blueberries to 150 for the Chocolate Fudge and topping out at 170 for the Mint Chocolate Dip. You can find specific nutrition info on the company website. The new oat milk versions are not yet posted on this page. As one comparision, the dairy-free and gluten-free Summer Strawberries oat milk pop has 70 calories and 1.5 g of total fat. See nutrition info details here.