This story about food starts in a very unlikely place — the Chilmark Flea Market. In a rare moment of downtime up-Island, I decided to treat myself to some unstructured window shopping (and real shopping). As I walked through the market’s stalls, I couldn’t help but notice several people holding a bright, ochre yellow popsicle. I tracked down the source, eventually finding myself in front of a colorful sign that that read “Yommi: Healthy Frozen Treats.”
The handwritten chalkboard menu advertised four different flavors — blueberry cheesecake, strawberry basil cream, mocha monkey, and golden goodness. All the popsicles are gluten- and dairy-free, except mocha monkey, which contains dairy.
I introduced myself to the owners, Adrian Johnson and Nicole Corbo, who were enjoying their first shift as popsicle vendors. I arrived at the flea market later in the afternoon, so unsurprisingly, almost all of the popsicles were sold out. I was able to nab a golden goodness, the ubiquitous yellow treat that I had seen in nearly every hand at the flea market.
This popsicle was made with with turmeric, coconut milk, fresh ginger, black pepper, and cinnamon. I’m generally on board with anything containing turmeric — turmeric smoothies, lattes, teas, and soups are all considered delicious in my book. But I’d never had it in a popsicle before.
I immediately unwrapped my frozen treat and licked the bright yellow surface. I was not disappointed. The flavors were subtle, but not boring. The turmeric, which can be strong and overpowering if you use too much, was delicately balanced. The coconut milk added a creamy, refreshing texture.
“It’s been really good; we’re so surprised [by the response],” Ms. Corbo said. “It was a fun idea, we didn’t know if people were going to like them. We’ve almost sold out at each market we’ve been at.”
Ms. Corbo and Mr. Johnson are also owners of Aloha Paddle, which offers paddle and paella excursions. They describe themselves as foodies who want to marry their love of outdoors with their love for food. “We see a need for healthy snacks for kids, and we feel there’s been a shortage on the Island,” Mr. Johnson said.
Ms. Corbo and Mr. Johnson were inspired to bring tasty, healthy summer snack options to the Vineyard after traveling around the world and tasting different flavor combinations. Most recently, they took a trip to Costa Rica, where they had their first turmeric popsicles. They were so enthralled with the flavor that they started brainstorming how they could bring this flavor to the Island.
The pair drew inspiration for the mocha monkey popsicle from a trip to Nepal, where they tried a popular local drink called a mustang coffee. The drink is coffee with yak butter, caramelized sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and a homemade liquor. While the popsicle version does not have alcohol, it does use local butter from grass-fed cows. “This one was a complete experiment,” Ms. Corbo said. “This past winter I was experimenting with putting grass-fed butter in my coffee. It just made it so creamy and delicious.”
While many people may balk at the idea of butter in coffee being a healthy option, Ms. Corbo points to the amount of vitamins and Omega-3s that are found in the local, grass-fed kind.
They started experimenting, making smoothies for their paddle clients, and over the winter continued to create different flavor combinations. Turmeric, maca, coconut, and other superfoods were the centerpieces of their recipes, and they couldn’t wait for summer to show people what they had created.
Not every popsicle on the menu has such a worldly backstory, but each flavor combination is well thought-out and made with plenty of care and love.
“It seems like we have something with the letter P,” Mr. Johnson said. “We do paddling and we do paella, and now popsicles. For us it’s a way to survive here on the Vineyard alongside the paddle business. This is a way to get us busy doing more things we love.”
You can find Yommi popsicles at the Chilmark Flea Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9 am to 2 pm, at the Oak Bluffs Open Market on Sundays, 9 am to 1 pm, and at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival at the Chilmark Community Center on Wednesdays from 5:30 pm to 8 pm.