How Rocket Pop Became the Drink Flavor of the Summer
This childhood favorite is blasting its way into seltzers, beer, and energy drinks.
Summer is for generalizations. Always has been. Those generalizations help us distinguish one summer from another. Each summer has its own song, its own drink, its defining movie.
It might not be as ubiquitous as the summer when hard seltzer took over, but there's a surprising flavor spreading like your sweat beads down your forehead: rocket pops. We're not just talking about popsicles being launched out the window of ice cream trucks, but a drink flavor. The iconic rocket-shaped, patriotically colored Bomb Pop has become a flavor.
Bomb Pops were developed in 1955 and, despite changing hands in the ’90s when Merrit Foods closed, are still made with the same recipe today. That’s a three-layer stack of lime, cherry, and blue raspberry.
Somehow a whole lot of companies, all at once, have combined those nostalgia-laden flavors into a single drink. "I think it took us about three or four iterations to really nail down the different layers of flavor," says Andrew Pieri, vice president of operations for Austin-based seltzer company Mighty Swell. "We thought it was a really cool sense of nostalgia to tap into."
Mighty Swell was developing the flavor in 2021. At that time, Pieri says he didn’t see any other companies with a rocket pop flavor in the marketplace. But it clearly wasn't the only one developing a flavor based on the popsicle. “It seems like this is the year of rocket pop, for some reason,” Pieri said. It has grown from being a childhood memory to the point where you’ve got multiple adult options to scratch that rocket pop-shaped itch.
Well, if the oddness of its rocket-like rise has you curious, here are a few ways you can get some liquid Bomb Pops without making a sticky mess.
Mighty Swell was one of the first to launch a rocket pop drink. The hard seltzer only comes in a pack of appropriately nostalgia-inducing flavors. This Rocket Pop brings together raspberry, pomegranate (substituted for the traditional cherry flavor), and lime to recreate that summer treat for big kids.
The Duvel Moortgat-owned brewery has released a hard seltzer with actual fruit juice and the standard Bomb Pop trio of lime, raspberry, and cherry. Like Mighty Swell's can o' nostalgia, it pours clear instead of the Gatorade-neon the patriotically colored cans might indicate.
Here, ice cream truck treats meet a German-style sour beer. The might not be a mouthwatering sentence, but the result proves otherwise. Unlike the hard seltzers here (Urban South has one of those, too), this has a tart, malty backbone and sticks to the lime, raspberry, and cherry combination.
Duclaw’s “Sour Me” series of beers are known for some unexpected flavor combinations. (You might remember Sour Me Unicorn Farts, which sounds ridiculous but is actually pretty good.) You probably have it figured out already, but the sour beer series has gone patriotic with its own Bomb Pop-style drink.
It’s a tart sour beer with the three most patriotic flavors science has discovered: Lime, Cherry, and Raspberry.
When you think of the summer flavors of a Bomb Pop, you obviously are also thinking about the iconic fall flavor of apple cider. Right? Maybe not. But you can find out what that collision might taste like thanks to Hudson North. Or you could at one point. It’s sold out. However, Hudson North tells Thrillist that it plans to release it again next year.
It’s not all hard seltzer and sour beer experiments with America-colored frozen treats. This is an energy drink with 200 milligrams of caffeine along with 15 calories and 0 grams of sugar. The company tells us you can track them down at GNC, TVS, Kroger, Target, Walmart, HEB, HyVee, Publix, 7-Eleven, and CVS.