Icy bottles of soda pop, homey cupcakes, drippy popsicles—these are the things everyone craves in the summer. Here, three amazing new places offering these Americana classics with some surprising (and even slightly eccentric) twists.
Brooklyn Dessert Mecca
For more than 20 years, Cheryl Kleinman (of Cheryl Kleinman Cakes) and Ellen Baumwoll (of Bijoux Doux) have been making some of the most romantic—and extravagant—wedding cakes in New York City. They still are, but last fall the pair decided to collaborate on a little neighborhood bakery in Brooklyn named Betty "that would have that homey feeling of going to visit your Aunt Betty for some treats," says Kleinman. The display shelves are lined with classic sweets like fruit tarts filled with vanilla cream, tender red velvet cupcakes and luscious dark chocolatefrosted layer cakes; the milk and sugar for the coffee sit on a 1920s mint-green oven. The place is so welcoming that the people behind the upcoming Uma Thurman movie The Accidental Husband recently filmed a wedding caketasting scene there. With all this baking, is the Betty duo getting tired of sugar? "I’m waiting for that to happen," Kleinman says. "I still eat cookies for lunch" (448 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn; 718-246-2402). —Megan Krigbaum
Oklahoma Soda Sanctum
As CEO of Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy, billionaire Aubrey McClendon keeps busy at his day job. But he also has some disposable income and a tendency to think outside the box (in the late ’90s, he started a tree farm in the traditionally wheat-growing area of Arcadia, outside Oklahoma City). So when he bought an old gas station next to that tree farm, McClendon rejected the option of turning it into an ordinary convenience store, deciding instead to capitalize on his enduring love of soft drinks. "When I think on my childhood, I think of old gas stations where there was always a soda machine," says McClendon. "So I said, ’Why don’t we build the world’s best collection of soda?’" This month, Pops will open on historic Route 66. The building was designed by acclaimed local architect Rand Elliott as a classic rest stop—complete with a diner, soda fountain and gas station—albeit one with thousands of soda bottles on display and a 66-foot-high neon bottle that can be seen for miles. Pops will carry 1,400 or so sodas, including nearly 50 colas, from domestic brands like Coca-Cola to Peruvian Inca Kola and German Afri-Cola. McClendon, whose father worked at a soda fountain as a kid, is keeping the business in the family—his 14-year-old son is Pops’ unofficial taster (660 West Highway 66, Arcadia; 877-266-7677). —Kelly Snowden
Carolina Popsicle Star
Summer Bicknell, owner of Durham, North Carolina’s wildly popular Mexican popsicle stand Locopops, gets many of her ingredients—rosemary, jalapeños, figs—from an organic urban garden tended by inner-city teens. "We bring pops out to the kids, because a lot of times they’ve never tasted what they’ve grown," says Bicknell. The Tennessee native didn’t grow up with paletas (Mexican popsicles); instead, she sampled one for the first time as an adult in Nashville when she was working in information technology. That taste set Bicknell on a new path. She found a paleta-making mentor in the Mexican town of Tlazazalca and spent three months following her through markets, learning how to choose fruit and balance flavors. Bicknell opened Locopops in a small storefront in June 2005, selling paletas in both traditional Mexican flavors, such as mango-chile and tamarind, and quirky ones like honeydew-lavender and chocolate-rosemary. Earlier this year, she and business partner Connie Semans opened a shop in Chapel Hill, and they’re planning a third for downtown Durham. Since frozen desserts don’t usually do well in cold weather, Bicknell tried to close Locopops in the winter, but fans protested; now the shops are open year-round (2600 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, and 431 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill; 919-286-3500). —Amanda McClements