Tiles from Wat Arun, lion dances in Yaowarat, Thai dramas—a popsicle for the whole city.
This 3D ice cream from Pop Icon has become a viral sensation in the past few months, successfully launching location-exclusive flavors and designs inspired by Thai landmarks.
With a passion for tourism and background in marketing, Sirinya “Namtan” Hanpachearnchoak came up with Pop Icon, a brand that provides literal food for thought on a stick.
“We pull inspiration from these surroundings,” she tells BK. “Translating these old school traditions and iconography into something playful, contemporary, and digestible.”
Pop also sounds like a Thai word that translates to “find,” which aligns with the brand’s intention to encourage people to travel around town and hunt down these ice creams for a quick refresher.
When designing the patterns and flavors, Namtan doesn’t go for the obvious references. Instead, she tries to pick up on the DNA of places that might have been overlooked.
The popsicles at Wat Arun “Arun Cafe” for example, are inspired by four styles of intricate tile work found on the signature stupa.
Thai tea reflects Wat Arun’s Chinese influences. And the smoked butterfly pea coconut milk echoes Thai culinary wisdom and the scent of candles wafting through the temple.
Some of the proceeds from the Wat Arun ice creams are put towards the temple’s amenities including medical care and education for the monks.
“We don’t want to just donate,” Namtan notes. “We want to create a sustainable change and be very clear and conscious where this money is going.”
At Yaowarat, the ice creams are inspired by the lion dance and dragon motifs hidden throughout Chinatown. The orange pomegranate flavor is an ode to the fruit stall vendors while the green tea flavor is tied to Chinese tea drinking traditions.
Riding the wave of Thai drama “Love Destiny” and its running sequel, Pop Icon also came out with two non-location specific orders. The ice cream “or-jao” (an ancient pronoun of “you” which became popular after the show aired) is of a boy and girl in a wai position, wearing a Thai costume. The flavors are a celebration of sought after tropical fruits like mangoes and lychee.
Similar to a fortune cookie, when finished the ice cream stick reveals blessings and Buddhist teachings.
“These popsicles are a medium that help attract more interest,” Namtan says. “It really allows people to take their time with these attractions, look into the details and be more educated.”