A New Albany resident and recent Ohio Wesleyan University graduate has turned her pursuit of the "world's best popsicle" into a burgeoning business.

A New Albany resident and recent Ohio Wesleyan University graduate has turned her pursuit of the "world's best popsicle" into a burgeoning business.

Three years after graduating from college, 26-year-old Amanda Cullison has parlayed a concept for healthy snacks into a full-fledged enterprise.

Last Thursday, the 2005 OWU grad and New Albany resident opened a kiosk on the lower level of the Polaris Fashion Place to sell her Fruitique popsicles.

It's the latest expansion of the business, which features five flavors of non-dairy, organic popsicles made of natural berries and juices, in addition to five flavors of organic, cream-based "smoothies on a stick" that are vegan-friendly.

"Most people don't want health food that tastes like bran cereal," Cullison said. "Fruitiques are health foods that taste great.

"My goal was to create the world's best popsicle."

Launched three months after she graduated, Fruitiques now are distributed by Sysco Corp. to schools and public swimming pools throughout central Ohio, and are sold at Whole Foods in Dublin and country clubs in Upper Arlington.

Plans currently are in the works to sell Fruitiques at Whole Foods in Upper Arlington, as well as central Ohio Fresh Markets and Kroger stores. Cullison also has her sights set on introducing her product to area medical and assisted-living facilities.

"We're working on a regional success, and once we prove that, we plan to expand to other areas," she said. "I think it's just a matter of generating more word of mouth, and getting the exposure.

"It's really hard to introduce a new product and new brand, but we have an opportunity here because when you're expecting sugar and water and you try a Fruitique, there's a 'wow' factor."

Cullison has been wowed by the response to her creation. It was born from ideals instilled in her through an Entrepreneurship 365 class taught by George "Rusty" McClure during spring semester of her senior year at OWU.

After learning how to develop a business model, cost analysis and other commerce keys, Cullison sought to provide a niche snack, with college students in mind.

McClure had faith in Cullison's concept,and decided to invest. The two are 50-50 partners, with the former student providing the vision and recipes, and the mentor extending capital and business expertise.

"My parents were a little freaked out when I told them I was going to quit looking for jobs and launch a popsicle business," Cullison said. "But inside of 90 days, we built a manufacturing facility, developed the recipes, got all our food licenses and packaging, and we opened a store at the Tuttle mall to do a test market. Basically, we wanted to see if people would buy it and, more importantly, if they'd buy it again once they'd tried it."

Within two months of introducing a retail model in August 2005, 8,000 units of Fruitique were sold and a concept became a business.

That winter, the company launched its wholesale model, and Cullison began convincing more stores and customers of the virtues of her products.

"It keeps doubling," she said. "I'd like to see how much it can grow over the next few years and take it into grocery stores, and also introduce it to hospitals and nursing homes.

"It just makes sense. Hospitals are healthy, and it's good for people with special diets."

In addition to seeking new outlets for sales, Cullison said, she continues to develop flavors. Trial products will be sold at the Polaris location, and she hopes the sky's the limit.

"It has been, is and will continue to be a ton of hard work," she said. "I always knew it was a good product, but it's always great to see people get excited about it."