Long ago if you grew up in Mexico and wanted a refreshing treat on a hot day you could get a paleta. A person growing up in the United States at that time would go for a popsicle. Today we are lucky enough to have a choice and it doesn’t take long to find either. Both icy treats while very similar, were developed in different cultures and once you’ve enjoyed both, you can see and taste the difference.
The common popsicle is well known throughout the United States and can be described as a colorful frozen treat that in its’ basic form is usually made of water, sugar and artificial or real fruit flavors. Some might also consider and ice cream bar to be a popsicle, but they are actually two different things.
So, what is the paleta? To start with, the name “paleta” means “little stick” in Spanish, a term meant to shorten and simplify. Like the popsicle, the paleta is also a frozen treat on a stick, but it’s what is on the stick that makes it different. Paletas are made from a variety of fresh ingredients including flowers such as hibiscus and fruits such as pineapples. But it doesn’t stop there, paletas go beyond the typical dessert flavors and challenge the pallet. For those with more adventurous tastes, some paletas are made with tequila and spices such as cinnamon or chili pepper.
Aside from the juice-based variety of paletas, there are also the cream based paletas. Often referred to as “paletas de leche”, these are a creamier softer type of paleta. As with many paletas, they are usually made by hand from natural ingredients. Pureed base ingredient and fruit chunks makes these paletas an especially enjoyable treat for both children and adults.
Paletas and popsicles are both juicy and delicious frozen treats that were developed in different cultures but are now enjoyed by people of all cultures.