19 October, 2020, 22:44

Farmers Market Profile: Fruit Monster Popsicles’ Shane Ray

Although popsicles come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, most of the time, they’re made with the same flavors and syrups.

Fruit Monster Popsicles is working hard to provide a healthier, more fresh, and tastier popsicle.

Fruit Monster Popsicles are made from locally grown fruit and include a list of easy to recognize ingredients. Shane Ray, owner and popsicle maker behind Fruit Monster, began his company as an artistic outlet.

“I started blending the fruits up and freezing them,” said Ray. “Slowly, I got better and the flavors improved as the years progressed.”

Inspired to know exactly what he was eating and where his food came from, Ray experimented with how delicious a natural fruit can taste on its own. Carrying this philosophy into his popsicle business, Ray reinforced how important it is to eat natural and organic produce.

“Usually I take a simple fruit and see how it tastes frozen to start. Then I might add a little citrus to push the flavor. I occasionally add coconut sugar or agave nectar as a sweetener if the popsicle needs it, but I try to keep it as naturally flavored as possible.”

Ray makes everything himself by hand and takes great pride in the flavors and overall experience. To ensure the consistency of each popsicle is just right, he sometimes makes several attempts before landing on the right recipe. Ray makes popsicles every other day in small batches to guarantee each one is fresh for the markets.

In order to create the best popsicle, Ray begins with local, organic produce.

“I work with a bunch of farmers market vendors to get my ingredients. I do shop at stores when I can’t locate what I want, but the majority of what I use is found at the farmers market.”

Flavors rotate weekly at Fruit Monster, but a few favorites show up regularly. Strawberry, Cherry Pineapple, Peanut Butter & Banana and Coconut make regular appearances. The most popular and requested flavor is Horchata.

Fruit Monster Popsicles (Credit Jennifer Rothschild)

Fruit Monster Popsicles (Credit Jennifer Rothschild)

“Everyone freaks out about it and I can’t keep it in stock. They take a long time to make and are super delicious.”

Ray also has been known to sneak in a few unique flavors and keep a secret menu. Typically when he is experimenting with new ideas, he will bring some surprises to the market and offer them to people to try.

Being a regular vendor at the farmers markets has played a key role in Fruit Monster’s success and also keeps the enjoyment alive for Ray. One aspect he finds particularly inspiring is making money at the market and being able to put it back into the community by purchasing his own goods.

“It is how we survive and live. We need to take care and support each other.”

Fruit Monster can be found at St. Philip’s Plaza on Sundays and occasionally on Saturdays, as well as UA Main Mall Farmers Market on Wednesdays. Ray’s popsicles can also be found everyday at Snack Monster, located in the Tucson Mall. And if you are lucky, Ray has been known to sporadically set up his cart somewhere on 4th Avenue and post his location on Twitter. Follow him there: @FMPopsicles on Twitter.

Jennifer Rothschild is an aspiring freelance food writer by night.

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