by Nicki Wood
When she lost her job as regional marketing manager for retirement communities, she turned her skill into a venture making Chilly Pops treats suitable for cancer patients, diabetics and other specialty diets like ADHD and suppressed appetites. Many of the flavors are sold in grocery stores and cafes around town.
"My orders got to be so big that I had to stop making them out of the house. I had to make my own manufacturing shop," says Bartosh.
Working from the Nashville Business Incubation Center on 10th Avenue North downtown, Bartosh produces more than 200 flavors stashed in three freezers. Thirty-one flavors are sugar-free, 52 are dairy-free, 21 combine fruit and vegetables, two include nuts, and 21 are yogurt pops.
Functional flavors pack maximum nutrients in one treat, for example, avocado-parsley-asparagus-orange, or offer a super-dose of antioxidants in a berry-rich pop. Others soothe a sore mouth, a common side effect of chemotherapy, with creamy ingredients like avocado and coconut milk (my favorite flavor of the three I tried).
You don't have to be on a special diet to enjoy them. The top 60 flavors are sold in Nashville-area eateries and retailers including Frothy Monkey, Granny White Market, both Whole Foods stores (and the Chattanooga location), Hendersonville Produce, Portland Brew, Puckett's in Leiper's Fork, Hatcher Family Dairies in College Grove and The Produce Place, where I encountered Bartosh and her wares.
She prefers to pick out the fruits and vegetables — including kiwis, cucumbers, apples, carrots, mangoes, avocados and berries — by hand so she gets the best quality and no surprises. Her family and a part-time assistant help with the work, though Bartosh says she's ready to hire a full-timer.
"I had never thought it would grow like it is. I’m really pleased. ... We've done really well in a year-and-a-half. I'm in so many places, and orders are good."