Popsicles to Get a New Look in May

Times Staff Writers

Urged on by mothers tired of cleaning up behind ham-fisted slurpers, the maker of the two-stick Popsicle has decided to phase out the product in grocery stores--80% of its market--and replace the frozen treat with a more manageable single stick.

Twin-stick Popsicles, which in recent years have faced stiffer competition from new fruit-based ice bars from Jell-O and Dole, will continue to be sold individually at convenience stores, amusement parks and sidewalk pushcarts, company officials said. The new Popsicle is to be introduced in May.

"We've tried to address the needs of our consumers with a fun product that parents will find more convenient" and less messy than the twin-stick size, said Rupert Walters, president of Englewood, N.J.-based Popsicle Industries.

But mothers will discover that convenience has a price: Due to inflation and ingredient changes, company officials say, a package of a dozen of the new 1 3/4-ounce, bullet-shaped Popsicles will cost about 9 cents more than the current $1.50 price. What's more, Popsicles will come in only eight different flavors, not the current 14.

When it opened its doors 63 years ago, Popsicle Industries--now a division of Sara Lee Corp. of Chicago--offered only a single-stick treat. The two-stick Popsicle was introduced during the Depression as a marketing ploy, company officials said. The company thought it could win over customers by selling the frozen treat for a nickel and saying it could be split with a friend.

But over the years consumer surveys began to show that mothers felt the twin sticks were messy and difficult to break apart. That sentiment became stronger in recent years, company officials said.

Asked if the single-stick Popsicle will breed a new, more selfish Popsicle consumer because it can't be shared, Walters laughed and said the company "never thought about the social significance" of the change.

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