By Léo Azambuja
We are definitely lucky to live on Kaua‘i, for countless reasons. One of those reasons turns out to be really sweet, in dozens of levels. It’s called OnoPops.
“OnoPops are handmade Hawaiian gourmet frozen pops made here on Kaua‘i,” said Greg Askew, who co-owns the business with his fiancée, Candace Boxer.
The couple is passionate about their product, hand-picking ingredients directly from local farmers. With more than 75 recipes in its arsenal, OnoPops has an inventory of 20 to 30 different popsicle flavors at any given time, depending on what farmers have available.
And it’s all natural.
“My product actually melts because we do not put anything artificial (on it),” said Candace, who is also the chef. And everything is gluten-free, she added. “There’s no gluten at all in my kitchen.”
Since opening the business some two-and-a-half years ago, OnoPops’ commitment to the community and the local economy has been second to none.
“What we are trying to do is to help Hawaiian agriculture sustainability by making a product based on what we grow,” Greg said. “Currently, 98 percent of the ingredients on OnoPops, on average, are from the state of Hawai‘i.”
Considering we live in a state that imports nearly 90 percent of its food supply, a food product made almost entirely of local ingredients is quite an impressive feat, and has earned them some props. Their pledge to work with local farmers and promote local economy has earned the business a rare double certification of Kaua‘i Grown and Kaua‘i Made programs.
The manufacturing plant in Hanama‘ulu reflects their passion for the business. The impeccably clean commercial kitchen carries some of the best and most modern equipment for making popsicles. For Candace and Greg, it’s a labor of love, with long hours dedicated to crafting the best popsicle in line with their vision and work ethics.
Their vision has worked well. In the last year, the number of outlets islandwide selling OnoPops doubled to about 20. Greg and Candace also do much groundwork, engaging directly with their customers in the many craft fairs, art walks and special events they attend on Kaua‘i.
Still, the real thermometer for company’s success is their product. None of their hardwork, obsession with crafting a healthy treat and spotless work ethics would matter if the popsicle didn’t taste well above the competition. So when Greg and Candace offered a sample of their many flavors available, I just couldn’t say no.
The popsicles just kept coming. My three favorite choices were the Mango Habanero, the Orange Cinnamon and my first pick, the phenomenal Kalamansi Coriander. I’m now a customer for life.
Another important detail; the popsicles have about only 90 calories or less each, which you can burn in 10 minutes of walking or biking, or even washing your car, dancing to five or six songs or doing whatever you want. The point is, this is a guilty-free treat, and a darn good one.
OnoPops is in the business of popsicles, but they also make and sell a li hing mui powder made with real sugar, while the majority of other li hing mui powders available on the market are made with artificial sweetener, especially aspartame.
OnoPops’ wrappings also serve as an educational tool. Each flavor has a corresponding character, and they all live on an imaginary land called Plantation Island, shaped like a popsicle. Each region of Plantation Island represents a place in the state of Hawai‘i where OnoPops sources their ingredients.
OnoPops was originally created on O‘ahu by two brothers, Joe and Josh Welsh. They would make everything on O‘ahu and ship it to Kaua‘i. Greg and Candace entered into a partnership with them two-and-a-half years ago. So today, Kaua‘i’s OnoPops are made on Kaua‘i, while O‘ahu’s OnoPops are made on O‘ahu. Many of the flavors of Kaua‘i’s OnoPops were created by Candace and are only available here.
Visit www.onopops.com for more information.