Paletas, the Mexican equivalent of popsicles, seem to be the latest sweet craze in Toronto. Two shops just recently opened in Kensington Market that all focus on the icy treat.
The word paleta stems from the Spanish word for stick, palo plus the diminutive eta. Paletas originate from Michoacán, a Western state of Mexico. Paletas started appearing in Mexico in the 1940s during a time of sustained economic growth referred to as the Mexican Miracle. While there are several theories for the true beginnings of the humble paleta, it is most commonly associated with the now famous ice cream shop, La Michoacana. Owned by two brothers, La Michoacana is a highly successful ice creamery that industrialized paletas for the rest of Mexico by franchising paleterías. Paleterías, are insulated push carts full of paletas operated by a paletero, the Mexican counterpart to our ice cream man. These push carts were inexpensive to own and soon paleterías were popping up all over Mexico as a popular source of income. Eventually with immigration, paletas entered North America.
What sets paletas apart from typical North American popsicles is that they are always made with real, natural ingredients. Paletas are usually made with a base of either water and fruit or cream, and often containing pieces of fruit as well.
Hailing from the success of his seafood taco eatery, owner Sean Riehl opened up Seven Lives Paletería just a few stores down on Kensington Avenue. Here you can find typical Mexican favourites such as prickly pear or mango and tajin. Tajin is a Mexican seasoning made of chilies, lime and salt which provides a sharp contrast to sweet fruits. For those of you that prefer something a little more conventional they offer flavours like chocolate peanut butter and cookies ‘n cream.
Aside from paletas, Seven Lives makes their own vegan soft serve in mango and pineapple with several signature floats and sundaes. Inspired by the famous Disneyland treat, they also feature their own version of a Dole Whip float of pineapple juice and ice cream.
While Seven Lives Paletería is dessert-centric, Wrestlers acts more as a paletería café. Wrestlers conveniently sits below La Tortillería, which is by the same business partners, Juan Román and Axel Arvizu. Here, the paleta flavours are often Mexican inspired but current bestsellers are their creamy pistachio and their breakfast paleta made with yogurt, granola, blueberries and raspberries. What sets this paletería apart is that you have the option to “take it to the next level” by dipping your paleta in your choice of white or dark chocolate and then taking it even further by dipping the chocolate into toppings such as roasted coconut, rice crispies or almonds.
Wrestlers is named after the idea that everyone is always wrestling with many tasks in their busy lives and acts as a place providing the fuel we need. Additional to paletas, Wrestlers also has churros, and a variety of caffeinated and alcoholic drinks. Beans from South-East Mexico are roasted on site for their own cold brew or their namesake drink of coffee with a shot of Kahlua. Frozen margarita and piña colada are also on offer, perfect for their plans of staying open late for the summer.
Whether you go to Seven Lives Paletería or Wrestlers, you certainly will not be lacking an options for creative pops!