Three nights a week you can find Jeff Patrick in a kitchen performing a bit of chemistry — with fruit and some other all natural ingredients, of course. Patrick is the owner of Nicey Treat, a staple at the Statehouse Market since last season.
We find Patrick on this night making and packaging over 1,000 pops with the help of two employees, his wife and mother. Those all-natural pops with no preservatives are in the hands of happy customers within days. And when those pops are gone, it’s back to the kitchen to make more. Each pop is handled with care and guaranteed fresh.
“The peaches we’re using came in from Pete’s Peaches in Washington, Indiana today,” Jeff says about the flavor called Pete’s Peach. “We’ll serve most of these off the truck over the next few days including at the (Statehouse Market). We won’t serve a pop more than 14 days after it was made.”
Yes, things move fast even in the popsicle business. The pops freeze quickly in a top-secret pop maker, each forming with a soft ice and a smooth texture. Once frozen, they exit the pop makers and are immediately sealed by hand in a recyclable plastic wrap. You can skip the wrap and eat one fresh, which the Patrick’s say happens from time to time. The pops that make it into the freezer are all sold within 14 days off the Nicey truck at various events in Indy.
So how did it all start? A few things lined up. Jeff remembers eating popsicles at his grandparent’s house as a kid. Then, on a vacation in Mexico in 2010, Jeff had his first frozen fruit treat or paleta. He returned home and after a search for frozen pops here that were as good as in Mexico he decided he would make his own. He even attended a popsicle workshop in Florida to better learn the craft of making delicious frozen treats.
The Strawberry Mint pop is made by cooking down a pot of strawberries, then taking an immersion blender through the berries. The blender is used on a bowl of mint to extract the oils for an intense mint flavor. Pops are also sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice, agave nectar or honey. Those are combined with just a few other all natural ingredients (sorry I can’t share the recipe) and the mixture is off to the pop maker.
In two-plus years, Jeff went from serving out of a bicycle cart to the first Nicey Treat truck. He still has the bike cart and four other freezer carts. Nicey can be six places at once. Their pops are also sold locally at The Goose and Foundry Provisions in downtown Indy.
“We want to make the best product we can,” Jeff said. “It would be easy to buy an ice cream base or a fruit base, but we don’t want to be huge. We’re happy serving a locally-made pop.”
There are plans for future retail space that would give Nicey Treat a home base downtown. Now they spend nights inside of Duos Kitchen, yes the same Duos Mobile food truck from the market.
“Our money is staying here,” Jeff says. “We’re buying local and supporting local farms when we can too!”
Some Nicey Facts
- As a member of 1% For The Planet, an international consortium of eco-friendly businesses, Nicey Treat gives 1 percent of sales to a variety of environmental non-profits.
- Nicey Treat uses compostable popsicle sticks
- If you bring 10 Nicey sticks back to them, you get a free treat. They’ll also recycle the sticks for you.
- Nicey does private events, including weddings.
- Jeff and his wife Stacey welcomed their first child Owen this summer. We call him the “Nicey Baby”.
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