When I was a kid, Space Shuttle Popsicles - Layers of Rootbeer and Orange - were my favourite Dickie Dee offering. Here's how to make a homemade version!
I don’t remember what made me think of it the other day, but somehow I got it in my head that I NEEDED a “Space Shuttle” Popsicle.
I asked my husband if he’d had them, growing up... and was kind of shocked to hear that he had not.
Obviously, I googled to find the best way to obtain one, and hit a roadblock: They must have been discontinued long ago, because there is not a single mention of them online, so far as I could find.
So, I was instantly on a mission. Well, a few:
1. Satisfy my own craving.
2. Introduce my husband to yet another thing he missed out on by being born in the wrong country.
3. Post the sole record of this Popsicle online, so its memory does not die!
... and here we are. 1 & 2 have been dealt with, so let’s get to work on #3!
Dickie Dee’s Space Shuttle Popsicles
When I was a kid growing up in Winnipeg, Dickie Dee’s was a summer STAPLE.
They were a squad of bikes with a freezer built on to the front, that would roam the neighbourhood - or park by the local pool - ring their bells, and sell popsicles to everyone that came running.
Sometimes I’d go for whatever the new thing was - usually shaped, and with at least one gumball as a feature*, but 9 times out of 10, I’d order the Space Shuttle.
IIRC, most of their layered popsicles were given space / aviation type names, but this one was my favourite - two layers of rootbeer popsicle, bisected with a layer of orange.
Anyway, it’s been many years since I last saw a Dickie Dee bike, and even more since I last had this root beer and orange popsicle.
Consulting a local Facebook group to look for them the other day was the start of a fair spate of me wondering if I’d made them up - almost no one remembered them.
Shortly after that, I found that the internet didn’t remember them either - not by name, no photos from that era with them, and not even by description.
So, I called up the head office to ask about “the root beer and orange popsicle from the 90s”, and before I’d even finished my sentence, the guy blurted out “Space Shuttles!”.
So, there we go. I didn’t make this up, these were a thing, and they were good!
*A .. Ghost? I think I remember a ghost with a gumball nose. Maybe it was Pac Man? I vaguely recall a Ninja Turtles one, or something similar?
Making Root Beer & Orange Soda Popsicles
The fact that the source material not only doesn’t exist anymore, but hasn’t for a LONG TIME and has no real trace of it on the internet posed a bit of a challenge.
It’s been a long time since I froze any kind of soda, but back then, the results were... not great.
Aside from weird crystallization happening, there would be some undesirable separation, with the bottom of the popsicle (top, when removed from the mold) ending up with a weird, syruppy layer that never really froze right.
But... that was when I was a kid, and these days... I know things!
The biggest issue with just freezing straight soda is that there is still carbonation in suspension, and that causes weirdness in the freeze.
Additionally, soda has a lower viscosity than the vast majority of mixtures used to make popsicles, so that also affects the texture.
The solution to both issues?
Heat it up, add sugar.
The heat not only helps dissolve the sugar, it’ll help coax the carbonation out. You want a disgustingly flat soda for making popsicles.
The sugar ups the viscosity and affects the way it freezes, resulting in a much nicer texture to the finished popsicle.
The Right Kind of Popsicle Mold
For most recipes, you can really use any style of popsicle mold you want. Due to the nature of the striping on this one, you’ll need to use a certain style.
Specifically, you’ll need a mold where you can pour into the cavity repeatedly while it’s freezing, like this popsicle mold we bought.
You’re not going to want to use one of the type where the popsicle stick has a built in drip guard and covers the entire cavity while it’s freezing.
I’ve really liked the one we have, ever since we bought it... but it’s particularly good for something like this.
When making these, I put the popsicle sticks in during the first freeze, which made for very secure sticks... but with very little “stick” as a handle.
So, for in instructions, I’m recommending waiting to add them, until after the first freeze.
Whichever way you do them, the lid on the mold will hold the sticks upright until they’re held in place with frozen popsicle!
How to Make Space Shuttle Popsicles
Note: As I mentioned, I ended up putting the popsicle sticks in earlier than I should have, so go by the words, moreso than the pictures here 🙂
Measure root beer layer ingredients into a small pot, and orange layer ingredients into another.
Whisking often, bring the two mixtures to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer just until sugar is dissolved and all carbonation has come out of the mix.
Remove both from the heat. Transfer to a measuring cup, if you like, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, pour root beer later into popsicle molds, until about ⅓ full.
Freeze popsicle mold until solid. Chill orange layer and remaining root beer layer mixtures until ready to use.
Pour orange layer over frozen root beer layer, until about ⅔ full.
Affix lid and popsicle sticks, freeze until solid.
Carefully remove mold lid, top-up each popsicle cavity with root beer layer.
Freeze until solid.
Carefully unmold - I'll usually run a bit of hot water over the outside of the mold cavities - and enjoy!
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"Space Shuttle" Root Beer and Orange Popsicles
Root Beer Layer
- 2 ½ cups Root Beer
- ⅓ cup Granulated Sugar
Orange Soda Layer
- 1 ¼ cups Orange Soda
- 2 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
- Measure root beer layer ingredients into a small pot, and orange layer ingredients into another.
- Whisking often, bring the two mixtures to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer just until sugar is dissolved and all carbonation has come out of the mix.
- Remove both from the heat, allow to cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, poor root beer later into popsicle molds, until about ⅓ full.
- Freeze popsicle mold until solid. Chill orange layer and remaining root beer layer mixtures until ready to use.
- Pour orange layer over frozen root beer layer, until about ⅔ full.
- Affix lid and popsicle sticks, freeze until solid.
- Carefully remove mold lid, top-up each popsicle cavity with root beer layer.
- Freeze until solid.
- Carefully unmold - I'll usually run a bit of hot water over the outside of the mold cavities - and enjoy!