Entrepreneurs offer a fresh array and many try to buy ingredients locally.
It's 95 degrees at the Rose-mount Farmers Market and there's a setback for JonnyPops: the freezer is out.
Still, St. Olaf College junior Andrew Sather handles it gracefully, spending the afternoon running between the Community Center and his booth to deliver frozen treats to customers. He's smiling and commenting on how the jogs across the sun-baked parking lot enhance his tan.
JonnyPops, founded by five St. Olaf sophomores last year, is one of many additions to south-metro farmers markets in 2012.
Business has grown so much for the start that several employees turned down internship offers this summer, said Connor Wray.
"This is going to be bigger than we can manage as a part-time job," he said. "We are all now doing this full time this summer." They also plan to hire 10 employees.
For the gourmet pops -- current flavors: "mountainberry" (blueberry/raspberry), strawberry, and coconut pineapple -- they use real cream and get as much of their fruit as possible from Lorences Berry Farm of Northfield.
"The berries that they produce are just incredible," Wray said. "I know it's cliché to say you can taste the difference, but you really can."
The frozen pop concept originated with the company's chief founder's cousin, who died from the effects of drug addiction, Wray said. A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Hazelden addiction treatment center.
JonnyPops is getting picked up by various businesses, and they're sold at seven markets, including markets in Eagan, Burnsville and Rosemount. Plans are to expand the product line by July 4 to include chocolate mint, mocha and strawberry-banana flavors.
Here's a taste of some of the other local entrepreneurs selling unique foods at south-metro markets:
Craving iced lattes and decadent goodies at Eagan Market Fest? Hunt down the bright turquoise food truck, A Cupcake Social. The 34-year-old cupcake connoisseurs, Jess Stone of Eagan and Suzette Herr of Apple Valley, sold out of their stock their first night of the Wednesday market.
Their standard lineup includes red velvet, death by chocolate, vanilla, and their popular raspberry burst. They also rotate several other varieties (orange dreamsicle, mojito, tres leche, chocolate-covered bacon) and sell cupcake crumble sundaes.
Stone, who sold real estate for 12 years, started baking as a hobby business a year and a half ago. "Things started to get really busy," she said. "It just mushroomed and got bigger. It kind of went gangbusters."
To your health
Health-minded shoppers will enjoy fare from gluten-free Sassy Spoon. Nutritionist Tamara Brown of St. Paul launched her bright pink food truck in May and works the Apple Valley market on Saturday and the Burnsville market on Thursday.
"Supporting the local farmers is really important to me," said Brown, who gets eggs, meat, and veggies from local farmers. "That's why I thought it would be a good match."
Her most popular entrees, she said, are sweet potato hash and miso-braised pork with a side of garlic-ginger slaw.
BBQ to the rescue
Chef Earl's Barbeque, a north Minneapolis caterer, expands its terrain this year, bringing a line of rubs and sauces on Saturdays to Burnsville and Tuesdays to Rosemount. No. 1 seller: sweet hickory. Best named sauce: "Stupid Hot."
Philly's Inc., a recent Burns-ville upstart, will sell snack mixes such as "firestarter" -- spiced with ghost and cayenne peppers -- or garlic dill pretzels at Eagan Market Fest.
Farmington sees new vendors such as Farm on Wheels, purveyors of grass-fed organic beef, chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, duck, and goose from veteran Kenyon farmers. Look as well for EROC's barbecue sauces (raspberry chipotle, boysenberry apricot, black cherry mango) and rubs.
Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.