Springfield natives return home to launch Champion City Pops

Tyson and Betsy Yirak are ready to cool things down just as the weather is starting to heat up.

The Yiraks just launched a new local business – Champion City Pops – and are ready and raring to hit the local market and festival scene with their original handmade frozen popsicles.

Launching online just a couple days before this year’s first Market at Mother’s (at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company), the couple is scheduled to sell in person at the market on Saturdays throughout April. Customers can also order online for porch pick-ups or request local delivery.

Though popsicles weren’t a long-term plan on the Yiraks' agenda, having a popsicle business has been a dream percolating in the back of their minds since they saw popsicles sold at a festival while living in Atlanta, Ga., a decade ago.

“We saw that popsicle stand and talked about it for the last 10 years and tried to decide what to do with that,” Betsy says. “We decided we could come up with a lot of cool flavors and have a lot of fun with it.”

Betsy, a Shawnee High School grad, attended culinary school and has worked in various restaurants and for catering companies, including Springfield’s Simply Delicious, and she co-owned a restaurant in Columbus for a time.

“It’s helpful for making the popsicles knowing ratios that work and being able to know flavors that could work well together when coming up with recipes,” she says. “It helps being able to look at food and understand what pairs well together.”

When she met Tyson – a graduate of Catholic Central High School – in Atlanta, he was building his marketing career, during which he has worked for major brands, including Monster Energy, McDonalds, and Papa Johns.

The couple moved around the country for work and family, including to California and Chicago, before moving back to Ohio, where they lived in Marysville and Dublin. Last fall, they decided they’d be happiest moving back home to Springfield to raise their family.

The Yiraks bought some popsicle molds and initially thought they would be fun treats to make for their kids. But after more and more family and friend taste testers loved their unique creations, they decided this was the right time and right place to make their dream a reality.

“Champion City Pops – we named it that for a reason,” Tyson says. “We both grew up here. We’re comfortable here. We have roots here. It’s all part of why we moved back here.”

The recent growth and business development they’d seen in Springfield was also part of what enticed them back and influenced their choice to launch their business in the Champion City itself.

“It’s starting to change; people are starting to take charge of making the city what they want it to be and working hard to grow businesses here,” he says. “I guess it just really is home again for us.”

In addition to Champion City Pops, Betsy also works as an aesthetician at Mary Ellen’s Aesthetic & Massage Studio in Downtown Springfield.

The Champion City Pops social media and website will showcase the Yirak’s weekly featured flavors, which included flavors like Mixed Berry, Birthday Cake, and a Disney-inspired Dole Whip during their first weekend at the Market at Mother’s.

They also included a collab pop that showcased Oats & Doughs chocolate chip cookies in a Cookies and Milk flavored popsicle.

“We’d love to also partner with local restaurants in the future – like Fratelli’s or Mother Stewarts – to make boozy popsicles,” Tyson says, adding that they’re excited to start building connections with other local business owners.

All the Champion City Pops products are each made with just about a handful of ingredients, and the Yiraks say they plan to use as many fresh, local products as possible.

The business has also started taking special orders for parties or events, and they’re always open to customers suggesting new future flavor ideas.

Champion City Pops will announce online where their upcoming locations throughout the summer.

You can pick up popsicles this week from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Market at Mother’s, with flavors including Orange & Cream, Strawberry Banana, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and more of the Oats & Doughs Cookies and Milk partnership pop. Customers can also snag Pupsicles starting this weekend – a special popsicle line the Yiraks have designed for dogs to enjoy.

Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.

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