How Ms. Amanda Yee and Mr. Aland Welford Invented Cranky Boots Pops
Story and illustrations by Robert Trujillo
I’ve known Aland Welford for more than 15 years. I know his passion for food firsthand from eating with him at countless tables both big and small. Whether it was at a local hole in the wall or a holiday dinner, the brother can eat. And he has passion when he eats, whatever the dish.
A year or so ago I met his business partner and companion Amanda Yee when we all took a rafting expedition down Russian River for Aland’s birthday. It was halfway through this voyage, after many of our friends drunkenly fell into the water, that I discovered Amanda’s passion for food. For lunch, the girl laid out an assortment of tastes with breads, fruits, veggies, spreads, dips, and cheeses that were as eye-opening as they were delicious.
When I found out through the grapevine that these two food lovers were starting a business together making gourmet frozen pops, I was inspired, ecstatic, and eager to get involved. When the hard-working pair took me on and assigned me my first task, I hadn’t even tasted their product. I was to write by hand the long list of flavors and ingredients that would distinguish each pop individually. As I wrote the tasty titles such as Banana with Burnt Caramel and Sea Salt, Hibiscus Pineapple-Limeade, and Figs and Goat Yogurt with a Balsamic Gastrique, I began to understand the creative thinking that went into making these popsicles.
I asked Amanda about the name of the business. “I used to call Aland that when he was being a little grumpy,” she said. “It stuck and now we both call each other Cranky Boots.”
I asked about how the pops are made and learned something far more important than the actual recipes: “Aland and I try to go into the kitchen with a loving attitude. He’s really big on us being in a loving space while we make pops. If we’re in a little tiff, he’ll stop what he’s doing and purposefully express love and gratitude toward me and try to find some understanding. I personally could chop strawberries and be angry and not think twice about it, but Aland won’t have it and that challenges me. I really love this about him, and I really do think it sets our pops apart from the competition.”
I had definitely heard before that the love you put into your food changes the taste, but it made even more sense when I saw how purposefully they pushed around their pops cart at events, and how they wore the fruit-stained shirts after actually making the pops.
I drew many signs and touted their product before actually tasting a pop, but when I took that first bite, at the Treasure Island Music Festival last summer, I was hooked. That was a magical day. Amanda says they put “Whole organic fruit, minimal sugar, a small amount of water, a whole lot of soul, and love” in the pops, and you can taste it. It’s nice to know folks who are not only conscious about what they eat, but extremely driven to share it with others. Their mission statement says it all:
“Our goal has always been to build and maintain community . . . Our mission is to bring some joyous essence of summer nostalgia to everyday folks, while at the same time doing our part to bring about social justice and awareness. It’s important for us to support not only our community, but the Earth’s health. The closer we do things to home, the more accountable we are to not only our environment but to the people of our community.”
With the pops, they continue a culture of nostalgia for the times when kids ate frozen pops and actually played outside. I ate about three the first day I tried them. I danced, and jumped around with that joy of recognition in my belly.
As Amanda and Aland are gearing up for this summer’s festivals, I eagerly wait to taste this summer’s flavors. The ingredients come from local farmers, and change as the two grow. The following sums up how they choose to sell their product: “These new pops are our conversation shared from the heart. Our Community line of pops is an attempt to not only foster, but sustain community, regardless of whom your community consists. One of the reasons why we have decided to sell this line exclusively to businesses functioning within a community setting is we want to increase this line’s chance of actually engaging people. Our hope is that while you eat these pops, they will center you around a table and create opportunity to start conversations, talk about pleasant childhood memories, new foodie experiences, or inspire you in your own form of creating.”
Be sure to visit www.crankybootspops.blogspot.com to learn more about Cranky Boots Pops (including Aland and Amanda’s wonderful blog entries). Find the cart this summer by following Aland and Amanda on twitter @crankybootspops. •
Robert Trujillo is a visual artist specializing in illustration, murals, and storytelling. He loves life, long embraces, and positivity. Learn more about him at www.robdontstop.com