By Courtney Byrnes
Searching for a tasty and refreshing treat to cool you down as the days get warmer? Or maybe you’re looking to serve spring party guests a unique, one-of-a-kind dessert?
Look no further than Pop Culture CLE in Solon.
What started in 2018 as an original treat shared with friends became a food truck, and has since turned into a brick-and-mortar store that offers fun creations on a stick and other gourmet desserts.
“I made a strawberry basil popsicle and put it in prosecco,” says Nicole Dauria, founder and CEO of Pop Culture CLE. “It was so good that one of my girlfriends said to me ‘Oh my gosh, this is the best thing I’ve ever had. You should start a business making these.’”
From there, Dauria says she began to do some research and found there was little competition in the world of gourmet ice-pops. She started making other flavors and in a snowball effect, her business took off.
Operating at first as a food truck with a fleet of five carts, Dauria served over 100 events in her first year. In May 2021, she opened her first shop in Solon. Approaching its first birthday, business has been great, she says.
Newfound Jewish heritage, family history
Dauria grew up in Solon and graduated from Solon High School before attending the University of Central Florida on a basketball scholarship. After college, she moved back to Northeast Ohio to raise her family and now lives in the city she grew up in with her wife, Tracie, and children, Mia and Dominic.
The Pop Culture CLE owner had always dreamed of having her own business. She started off with a corporate concierge service which morphed into a delivery service out of college, where she says she learned much about running a business. Prior to becoming a manufacturer of gourmet ice cream and whimsical, decadent desserts, her previous career was in executive search as companies hired her to find top talent.
Dauria is also adopted, and out of curiosity took a couple at-home DNA test kits to find out more about herself and where she comes from.
When the results came in, there were many new discoveries. First, she found she is 50% Ashkenazi Jewish. Second, she has a brother, and a father who is 100% Ashkenazi and lives in Alabama with his wife.
“Through that program I realized … there was somebody labeled my brother,” Dauria says. “So I did a little bit of research and found out who he was, and I reached out to him and just mentioned that his father is potentially my father.”
Her biological brother, who was initially shocked by the news of this potential sister, reached out to their biological father, who was equally as surprised to learn about his daughter who was given up for adoption, she says.
After taking a day to process the news, he contacted her. Dauria says his first words to her were “If I knew that I had a child, you would have never been given up for adoption, and I would have raised you on my own.”
From that moment forward, Dauria has stayed in contact and flown out to spend time with her newly-found biological family. She says although she will always consider the couple that raised her to be her parents, her family has certainly grown since that discovery.
More (tasty) growth
Also experiencing plenty of growth is Dauria’s business. While the opening of a store location in 2021 was a big milestone, Dauria’s ambitions have not slowed. New in 2022 was the addition of another dessert truck, bringing on pastry chef Shelby Costo and possibly adding a liquor license.
As soon as Pop Culture CLE gets the liquor license, they will be able to make bakery items and ice cream infused with alcohol – much like the prosecco ice pop that first inspired the business, she says.
Located in a two-story house on Solon Road, Pop Culture CLE’s shop has both a front and back patio. Inside, the space is decorated fittingly with dessert-centric modern pop art. The natural light filtering in gives it a spacious feel, yet remains cozy enough to feel at home.
The business now includes the store location, two operating food trucks and a catering business that serves all types of events from b’nai mitzvahs, weddings, birthday parties, corporate catering and school fundraisers. It serves 20 to 30 events a month, Dauria says.
What makes Pop Culture CLE stand out is the unique frozen treat flavors, with some that are seasonal and some year-round staples. Its website shows creations like gelato on a stick, with flavors like key lime pie, Italian pistachio, orange creamsicle, Mexican chocolate and banana Nutella, to name a few. Sorbet on a stick flavors include strawberry lemonade, fresh watermelon and chocolate-covered strawberry. To top it off, there are also edible cookie dough pops and root beer float ice cream on a stick. And much of the menu is vegan.
Beyond frozen treats for those hot spring and summer days, Pop Culture CLE also makes Liège waffles, offered with a selection of delectable toppings, as well as caramel apples, rice crispy pops and hot chocolate bombs.
On any given day, Dauria says there are about 16 frozen treat flavors to choose from. She notes hits like Fruity Pebbles, crème brulée and the most popular – s’mores.
“(S’mores) is a chocolate-custard popsicle with roasted marshmallow cream and then rolled in graham crackers,” she says. “It’s so good, and that is our best-selling popsicle.”
When you visit
Pop Culture CLE is at 33549 Solon Road in Solon. Hours are 5-9 p.m. Tuesday – Friday; 4-9 p.m. Saturday – Sunday. Closed Monday. Visit them online at popculturecle.com. For catering and other information,
Strawberry Lemonade Ice Pops
Nicole Dauria of Pop Culture CLE shares her recipe for how to make strawberry lemonade sorbet on a stick at home:
- 10 ounces strawberries
- 2 ounces lemon juice
- 2 ounces sugar
Blend the ingredients together. Pour mixture into ice-pop molds. Freeze overnight and enjoy.