Battle of the Dishes

Paletas Betty vs. AZ Pops: Who's Gonna Freeze Out the Competition?

As summer approaches, we can't help hiding in the freezer aisle at the local grocer. Though you can find all of the basic popsicle choices there, you'll have to venture elsewhere to grab some truly gourmet pops. AZ Pops gives the classic treat a classy twist, while Paletas Betty adds tasty Mexican flair to the flavor combos. Which icy treat is the tops?

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In This Corner: Paletas Betty

The Setup: With Valley locations in downtown Chandler and Tempe, Paletas Betty shops are set up to grab and go. The simple spaces, each with a counter and a freezer display case, make it easy and quick to get a frosty fix. The paletas run at just under $3 per pop.

The Good: The Mexican-style popsicles come in both creamy and fruity consistencies, both of which can hold up to a car ride in the heat without melting down all over your lap or car seat. With more than 10 south-of-the-border-inspired flavors like arroz con leche (rice pudding), zarzamora (blackberry lavender) and sandia (watermelon and fresh mint) made from fresh ingredients, you won't find popsicles like this just anywhere.

The Bad: Though the texture and consistency of Betty's paletas are nearly perfect, the flavors could stand to be stronger. But we're not really complaining, they're super-tasty.

In The Other Corner: AZ Pops

The Setup: We first tried AZ Pops at the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market and noticed the stand popping up at other weekend farmers markets in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, and Scottsdale. Each time we saw it, we had to stop to try a new flavor, which is why we were so excited to find AZ Pops at Luci's Healthy Marketplace so we can get them whatever day we want for just about $3.

The Good: AZ Pops packs the flavor punch Paletas Betty was just barely lacking. The lavender berry lemonade and cucumber sesame flavors are one-of-a-kind and definitely addicting. Other flavors include coconut chocolate, strawberry balsamic, hibiscus ginger, and rosemary caramel, but the current list is always expanding. Plus AZ Pops definitely are aesthetically impressive, with a combination of colors and real fruit in most varieties.

The Bad: Eat your AZ Pops popsicle fast or prepare to get sticky. Despite the insanely potent flavors, they don't hold up to heat nearly as well as Paletas Betty's popsicles. However, chowing down on them isn't exactly hard to do -- just watch out for brain freeze.

And the winner is . . . It's a tie. We know, what a lame ending, right? Wrong! Paletas Betty and AZ Pops have so many unique flavors that it'll be fun to try all of them this summer. Since each had many positive and distinguishing aspects and just a couple of negative ones, it's just impossible to pick which is better. They're both about the same price, so we're pretty sure we'll be alternating between the two pop specialists every day until November.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch