June is Pride Month worldwide, and along with the well-deserved spotlight on LGBTQ+ issues also come a slew of Pride-oriented marketing courting the so-called ‘pink peso’ by selling to the community.
Now while there are some examples of good advertising along with some missteps, it’s still rare to see a business that’s been consistent with its support of the LGBTQ+ community. “I am an out and proud member of the community and have proudly shown our roots,” says Ian Carandang, owner of Sebastian’s Ice Cream.
The artisanal ice cream brand is known for its experimental flavors, having come out with ice cream in flavors inspired by Filipino food classics. Think sapin-sapin ice cream, mimicking the layers of flavors of the sticky-rice delicacy; or even green mango and bagoong in a sorbet. It’s also known for its sometimes-ironic Valentine’s Day flavors, which has included Unresolved Issues, a sorbet featuring the unmistakable taste of bitter melon.
But there’s no irony in the yearly Pride Pops, which come out in June every year. These multi-layered frozen desserts really are quite tasty — the colors aren’t just for show.
This year’s cool additions: a Trans Pride pop, described as a “Yakult-based Ice Pop made with layers of Blackberry Yakult, Strawberry Yakult, and Original Yakult”; and a Bear Pride Pop, in “chocolate, Nutella caramel, coffee, vanilla, black sesame, and black cocoa”.
That’s in addition to the regular fruit-based Rainbow Pride Pops, which are made with real fruit and fruit juice, in layers of strawberry, orange, mango, green apple, blueberry, and grape.
Pride Pops made their debut at the 2015 Pride March, says Carandang. Back then, the event wasn’t that big of a draw yet, and so it was easy to sell the hundred he’d made. As the marches began to draw in exponentially more people over the years, so Carandang also increased production.
“So in 2018 I decided to lean into it and sell JUST the Pride Pops. I made 1,000 pieces, which was unprecedented at the time for us, considering it was going to be just for one day,” he says. Because of the difficulty in making the pops — they had to be frozen in precise layers — the process took an entire month. “It was definitely us betting on ourselves that the community would embrace them.”
And embrace them, the community did. “We sold out every last Pride Pop. It was an amazing feeling to see all these people enjoying the pops with huge smiles on their faces, and the social media posts the days after. It really was one of the best days of my life.”
This year, with the physical Pride March cancelled for the second year in a row, Carandang continues to make the Pride Pops as his way of waving more than one flag. The Bear Pride Pop is “a love letter to the Bear Community, which I consider myself a part of,” he says.
The Transgender Pride Pop is the first time he’s making something for a community he may not personally identify with, he says. “But [I made this] as a gesture of solidarity and support and visibility to my Trans brothers and sisters, who in the last couple of years have been have been discriminated against in bathrooms, clubs, and places of work even as awareness rises in Philippine society.”
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This article, Pop in the name of love: these Pride Month treats beat the heat (and hate), originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.