How Bomb Pops Became A 4th Of July Classic

The 4th of July is a holiday full of iconic images like fireworks, burgers on grills, and waving American flags, but there is a good chance your earlier childhood memories of Independence Day involve enjoying the cool taste of a Bomb Pop. The red, white, and blue ice pops have been a staple of the summer for decades, with kids running out to the sound of an ice cream truck and returning home with their lips and clothes stained the colors of the American flag. That popularity has also led to the flavor combo of Bomb Pops, cherry, lime, and blue raspberry, becoming its own category, with beverages like sodas, alcoholic drinks, and other popsicle brands using it to appeal to childhood nostalgia. While Bomb Pops (also called Rocket Pops) are popular all season long, its instantly recognizable design feels tailor made for a patriotic holiday, and if you go back to its creation, you can see exactly why that is.

Bomb Pops were not invented for the 4th of July, but the invention was the product of a time of intense national zeal. The treat was first created in 1955 in Kansas City, Missouri by D.S. Abernethy and James S. Merritt, who worked for Merritt Foods. The summer the pops were released was a time of high nuclear tension during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was designed specifically to appeal to the fervor and American pride of the moment.

Bomb Pops were created to appeal to American patriotism during the Cold War

It wasn't just the red, white, and blue that was made to appeal to American patriotism — the name Bomb Pops came from the fact that the six-fin design was modeled after an actual bomb, putting a bit of grim subtext on a frozen sugar pop primarily marketed towards children. Bomb Pops even became the basis for imitators from Merritt's rival Popsicle, which released the nearly identical Firecracker in 1989 as the Berlin Wall was set to fall and American pride was once again running high. Nestlé followed suit with a second copycat called the Triple Rocket. Merritt eventually folded as a company, but Bomb Pops were worth saving, and the brand was purchased by Wells Enterprises of Le Mars, Iowa, which also makes Halo Top and Blue Bunny ice cream and continues to produce Bomb Pops to this day.

Since Bomb Pop's rise to iconic status, there have been spinoffs and partnerships with items like Jolly Ranchers and Warheads and new Bomb Pop flavors. Drinks like Smirnoff have released "Red, White, and Berry," flavors clearly copping the Bomb Pop style, as have snacks like Pop-Tarts, and a whole range of "Rocket Pop" beverages like Twisted Tea have appeared in just the past few years because, unlike Bomb Pop, that name is not trademarked. But Bomb Pops are still the original, and as long as the 4th of July is celebrated, they will stay iconic.