The holidays bring with them a certain set of expectations. In people’s minds chestnuts are roasting, it’s a white Christmas, and there is a miracle on every street. The picture Hollywood has painted is magical and will forever be etched in our minds. If you live in Los Angeles though chestnuts might as well be replaced with fajitas on an open grill, a sandy beach is the closest thing to a white Christmas you’ll experience, and the only real miracle is no traffic on the 101.
That’s where the true beauty of this season lies: in the diversity of the holiday experience. Geographical regions, culture, and traditions produce amazing, unique events that might not have happened, even if you had tried to plan them perfectly.
Meet Layne Eiler, owner of Sweet Clementine’s Popsicles.
Layne saw an opportunity to provide wholesome and healthy popsicles made from natural ingredients in Los Angeles using the familiar popsicle cart concept. With help from her friends, she was able to tap into a new market and provide the community of Los Angeles with a healthy alternative to consumer popsicles that were often sold in major grocery chains.
As time progressed, Layne expanded into holiday flavored popsicles, a perfect companion to California’s near perfect year-round weather. With a vision to fill a niche, her holiday popsicles became a popular item and offered a holiday treat that was unique to the Los Angeles community, and has started to help change perceptions about what can be enjoyed during the season.
Where did you grow up?
I actually grew up in Arcadia, California. I studied fashion at the OCC in Huntington Beach/Costa Mesa area for about two years working in merchandising. Then I got a job opportunity to work in the fashion industry for the Armani Exchange in New York in 2004. So I was like “forget school, I am done.” I stayed there until 2006 and then I moved to Nashville for three years around the Nippers Corner and Hillsborough village area. Then about five and half years ago, I moved back to California for family reasons. My first nephew was born and I just wanted to be an auntie that was close by.
How did you come up with the idea Sweet Clementine’s Popsicles?
I always tell people that I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit ever since I was a little kid. I had a lemonade stand. I had a scrunchy business when I was in junior high. It seems that I have always had the ability to see a niche and to fill it somehow. I was able to see opportunities like most entrepreneurs and use the resources around to make something out of nothing. This ability led me into popsicles.
While in Nashville, I was really inspired by this place called Las Paletas. A really simple concept. They just have one store front. They had three freezers filled with dairy, fruit, and floral. It was cash only. It’s like the hot spot where everyone goes. When I came back to California I thought to myself, “Why don’t we have this in California?” It’s warm year round. We have frozen yogurt, and ice cream sandwiches. It was a lightbulb moment when I saw all those guys at the push carts and ice cream trucks. I wanted to find a way to produce popsicles in a healthier way.
Typically, popsicles have high fructose corn syrup as well as fillers and tons of water but lack dense, natural and healthy ingredients. It was then that my wheels started turning. I started researching. Can I buy a cart? Can I rent one? Since I was working in coffee at the time, it really helped me grow and develop my palette because I was around other people who were really passionate about food, wine, and beer. All of the people in that field were super excited about this project. I was able to use their palettes as my test base. Originally, I did a tasting with twenty flavors that got narrowed down to ten. My friends and colleagues helped narrow them down. We conducted an official tasting with clipboards and everything.
Do you have plans to do a storefront or do you want to do pop-up?
Yeah but at this point I definitely like keeping it mobile. I like the versatility it provides as well the constant interaction and engagement with various environments and the different people I encounter. My plan for 2015 is to continue with the mobile model and expand the number of carts I have so I can do multiple weddings and music festivals. I also want to build out the delivery and pick-up service as well.
You said you have twenty flavors but you narrowed it down to ten. How did you come up with your flavors?
It’s kind of a mixture of things. Sometimes it’s seeing a recipe and then tweaking and altering it. Sometimes it is just purely experimental and just stumbling upon things — which have led to some failures. I have also had input from my friends as well. Craft cocktails have inspired me too. I started to notice certain things on menus that made me curious — what herbs did they mix with certain types of gins or whiskeys. Then I would take a picture of their menu and use it later as inspiration.
Can you talk about the recipe that we are going to feature?
It is a rum eggnog—a boozy pop! So I have just started building out that arm, like within this last year because there were a lot of ad agencies that were asking me if I could do special menus — hence the boozy pop menu. I created the rum eggnog for our holiday party at Copa Vida last year. It was so popular there that I had other people ask me if they could buy that at other times of the year so they could put it in their freezer, but I wasn’t making it.
What is your favorite holiday memory?
It was around the age of seven. I got this sweet Radio Shack radio that I had wanted forever. It was creme with pastel knobs on it. I was so excited that I was parading it around the house. That was a great Christmas!
Rum Eggnog Popsicles
Recipe by Layne Eiler
6 cups of heavy cream (4 before chilling & 2 after)