The Man Behind Gainesville’s Favorite Pops
The Hyppo, the gourmet popsicle shop we have come to love, is on its way to spreading far and wide for all those who seek fresh, original tastes in the form of a frozen treat.
It will open the doors to its second Gainesville location in a few weeks, giving both customers and The Hyppo owner Stephen DiMare much to celebrate, and much to look back on.
The journey of The Hyppo began in 2010 when DiMare boarded an airplane destined for his hometown of St. Augustine. During the flight, he made small talk with the woman sitting next to him. He chatted about his love of coffee and his plans to someday open his own coffee shop.
“Well, you’re from Florida,” the woman said. “Why don’t you make popsicles?”
Though he didn’t actually say this to her, DiMare’s first thoughts were, “That’s a really bad idea.”
“I never thought about a popsicle as like, a thing,” he said. “My sisters and I made terrible little-kid popsicles out of apple juice and coke, and they always came out bad.”
But DiMare’s flight companion pressed on, explaining the various flavor combinations she had come across in her native Nashville, Tennessee. Popsicles, the woman said, can be more than just sugar and processed ingredients. They can be made of fresh fruits, herbs and spices. The possibilities seemed endless.
“It was kind of a revelation. Then my mind just started running.”
At the time, DiMare was living in Big Sky, Montana. He had been unemployed and unoccupied since graduating from the University of Florida. Until he received a call.
“A friend asked me to come out for the winter and work at his ski lodge, and I said, “Sure, why not? I’m not doing anything. I have a history degree!’”
It was serendipity. DiMare’s conversation during the flight inspired him to give popsicles a try, and the humdrum night-shift at the ski lodge gave him time to experiment. Armed with ice trays and toothpicks, he got creative.
“I found the weirdest Mexican recipe online that I could, which was cucumber and jalapeño,” he recalled. “And it was fantastic.”
He offered his amateur popsicles to guests, who would then provide feedback, which turned out to be overwhelmingly positive. He was onto something.
With money he saved from the winter gig at Big Sky, DiMare flew back to St. Augustine and acquired retail space in the city’s tourist-filled downtown area on May 10. In less than four month’s time, he had gone from ski lodge employee to business owner.
Fueled by adrenaline and excitement, DiMare and his family and friends worked tirelessly to get the Hypolita St. shop up and running, a collaborative effort that translates into a lot of “we,” “we,” “we” when he talks about The Hyppo.
“It just feels wrong to say, ‘I did this,’ and, ‘I did that,’ when I’m talking about the company because my parents and friends all helped out in some way. It’s always a team effort.”
On June 5, 2010, the Hypolita Street location was open. Fast forward four years, and The Hyppo has four shops, can be found in the frigid aisles of various small-box grocery stores, like Ward’s Supermarket, and more than 500 popsicle flavors have been created. And after all that, never has quality been compromised.
“Not eating crap is really important,” DiMare said. “That’s how we view the world, so that’s the thinking that goes into the production of our pops.”
All of The Hyppo’s popsicles are all-natural, free of GMOS, and, when dairy is used, it is always RSBT-free. The fruits used for recipes are always in-season and preserved to maintain their fresh flavors. This is why a popsicle at The Hyppo tastes the way it does. There’s no mistaking it for what you find at the supermarket.
“Fresh fruit makes such an enormous different, and fruit is what drives our cost,” he said. “But this is the only way I’m willing to do this because I don’t compromise on core stuff.”
Anyone who has tasted The Hyppo pops can attest to their greatness.
Each experience is intimate and pleasurable. Friendly, knowledgeable team members are welcoming and always ready to recommend the newest flavor. The quaint, rustic décor makes it a cozy place to catch up with a friend or grab a pop with a date. And the popsicles? Well, you’ll have to go taste on yourself.
“People try the popsicles, which seem so expensive in comparison to the ones you buy at the supermarket, and they’re converted.”
I’ve converted, too, and am so looking forward to more popsicle worship at the new location in the upcoming weeks.
The Hyppo’s new Gainesville location is located at 3232 SW 35th Blvd.
This piece is sponsored by The Hyppo
Featured photo courtesy of WordPress