This is, by a pretty wide margin, the most common question people ask at events, in the pop shop, or anywhere we meet up with with our pop-loving customers. It’s an odd name, so it makes sense that people wonder. We much prefer answering that question over certain others. Example: for reasons that never cease to baffle us, some people simply don’t notice that Crooked Stick Pops has three words, and they all matter. People ask “What’s a CROOKED POP?!” or “What’s a STICK POP?!?!?” To these good people, we can only smile (crying on the inside) and mutter whatever (hopefully inoffensive) wisecrack comes to mind.
Fortunately there are two good answers to “Why are the sticks crooked?”
Here’s one: a crooked stick offers an innovative ergonomic improvement, boldly disrupting the prevailing straight stick paradigm. To this answer, you might reasonably inquire: “Huh?!?”
If you’ve ever eaten a primitive straight-stick pop, you may have had a devastating experience at the end: as you bite the frozen deliciousness off one side of the stick, the remaining frozen deliciousness breaks off and falls unceremoniously to the ground. This often leads to tears. . . as it should.
If you have lightning reflexes and awe-inspiring coordination, your hand might shoot out and catch the remaining chunk before it plummets to the dusty earth. Sadly, most people don’t have that ninja skill. And let’s face it, even if you’re among the supernaturally agile and can snatch a falling pop fragment from the air, you then have a sticky hand—suboptimal, albeit delicious.
Studies show that when you eat a pop with a crooked stick, this dispiriting phenomenon happens 93.276% less often than it does with a straight stick. This is actually not true at all, as there’s obviously been no such study. But. . . BUT. . . when you get to the base of the pop, if you chomp the big side, saving the narrow side for last, you can coax the last morsel off the stick in a single bite, leaving nothing to catastrophically fall under the sneaker of a passing pedestrian. Crisis averted!
So here’s the real answer: when Popmaster Julie was thinking of names for her inchoate pop concern, she considered an enormous range of possibilities. Anthropomorphized pop-loving animals, evocative flavor sensations, hipstery wordplay—it was entertaining at first, later agonizing for everyone. Some superfun names were already in use. It was crushing, for example, to find that Octopops—with an eight armed, bulbous-headed mascot clutching a delicious pop in each tentacle—was already in use by a possibly active but also possibly defunct pop shop in another state. Other names were “fine” but not inspired.
While she was trying to decide if she really wanted to become a captain of pop industry, Julie experimented with recipes using a cheap mold she bought online. This plastic mold had a sheet metal cover with slots over the center of each pop mold to hold standard wooden sticks. Before putting the mold in the freezer, she’d insert the sticks, straightening them with the careful and steady hand of a surgeon. She’d slowly close the door to avoid jostling. A few hours later, she’d open the door. . . to find the sticks always pointing in a bunch of random directions! Curses! (Yes, literally.)
One long day in the popsicle mines, after busting her brain to try to solve the intractable problem of crooked sticks, the epiphanic moment came without warning! She realized that if she were to simply embrace imperfection, she’d have herself a perfectly good name right there. Software engineers know this enlightened mental state by the phrase “It’s not a bug. . . it’s a feature!” Incredibly, no other purveyor of fine ice pops was already using Crooked Stick Pops, and that was it.
The funny twist ending is that when she decided to go for it, and she built out her commercial kitchen and invested in lots of big stainless steel machines, she realized that commercial pop machines come with “stick straighteners” to ensure perfectly straight sticks every time. Heart set on Crooked Stick Pops by then, she had to spend a couple of hours devising a cunning system to defeat the stick straighteners and keep those crooked sticks we’ve all come to love.
One final anecdote about the name. At every music festival, some beardy guy working on his fourth beer will feel compelled to ask us “How do you know it’s the stick that’s crooked, and not the pop?” Usually there’s a line and we’re trying to help people. Beardy man of profound philosophy, I regret to inform you that you are Not. The. First.