When H. T. Epperson moved his family to their new home at 1003 Noe Street in San Francisco, he had no idea that the family’s rear porch would give birth to the Popsicle.
By Laura Abernathy Huffman
Henry Thorpe Epperson was a purveyor of fancy groceries and crockery. He also owned Chico Ochre Mills. His mills turned Butte county yellow ochre into paint. Epperson used this paint to decorate the ceramic dishware he manufactured to merchandise to his customers
Epperson was creative and inventive. He held two United States patents. His first patent was for a machine he used to decorate china, glass, and ceramics. Patent #791681, was granted to him June 6, 1905.
His decorating machine wasn’t the only thing invented at the family home at 1003 Noe Street in 1905 though. That winter his oldest son, Francis William “Frank” Epperson, was experimenting with different flavored soda water powers to create an exotic flavor. The 11-year-old boy was called away from his task and forgot about the glass he had left on the back porch.
Frank W. Epperson lived with his family in this home at 1003 Noe Street, San Francisco, as an 11-year-old boy when he invented a frozen confection that would later take the world by storm as the Popsicle. Image via Google Maps.
When young Frank returned to his task the next morning, after an unusually cold San Francisco night, he found the liquid in the glass frozen around the stirring stick he had used to combine the powders the night before. It resembled an icicle. The youthful lad dubbed it an Epsicle.
Frank Epperson continued his work of growing up and fast forgot about his frozen Epsicle. He matured, married, became a father, worked as a furniture salesman and went into the real estate business.
In the early 1920s Epperson recalled his boyhood invention. He began manufacturing his Epsicle and hawked it at a Fireman’s Ball, at Neptune Beach and at Idora Park in Oakland. On March 5, 1923 he filed for a patent for his “frozen drink on a stick.”
Everybody Likes Ep-sicle! Photo of an Epsicle wrapper shared to Ancestry.com by user maryepp1.
Liquid syrup was poured into ordinary test tubes. A wooden stick, made of tasteless wood, was soaked with the same syrup and plunged into the test tube. The test tube, confection, and stick were frozen together, forming into one mass. With a quick wiggle of the stick and a solid “pop” the frozen treat was removed from the test tube and packaged individually to be sold.
The treat was a hit, but the Epsicle name didn’t stick. Epperson quickly renamed it the Popsicle and formed the Popsicle Company. Popsicle Company gave way to the Popsicle Corporation in 1924. Epperson filed for a patent on the Popsicle-making process. Soon after his patent was granted, Epperson sold all his patent rights to the new Popsicle Corporation that September.
Frank W. Epperson and granddaughter, Nancy, celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Popsicle together in 1973.
In the early 1930s Popsicle introduced fudgsicle and creamsicle to the world. Their frozen lollipops have delighted children of all ages for almost a century. These frozen treats also inspired Uranus Fudge Factory’s flavor of the month- Orange Creamsicle! This smooth and dreamy, orange and creamy fudge is available in-store or online through September 2023.
Pop a piece into your piehole and thank 11-year-old Frank Epperson for ushering the Popsicle into an American icon.
Uranus Fudge Factory’s Fudge of the Month for September 2023 is Orange Creamsicle. Pick up yours in-store, or order online today!