It’s a pepino loko, part of a constantly changing treat menu at Michoacana Paleteria y Neveria, 9405 Long Point Rd., one of the neverias, or ice shops, that have appeared in Spring Branch strip malls over the last decade.
In Mexico, a nieve, or “snow,” means any kind of ice cream, popsicle, or frozen snack, usually sold by a street vendor. Today, though, neverias specialize in a whole range of rococo fruit salads, some containing nothing icy at all, artfully – and irresistibly — garnished with hot sauces, nuts and tart gummies.
Mexicans have been devising iced desserts for centuries: Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, supposedly sent runners to the volcanoes overlooking the capital for snow to mix with chocolate.
But the nieves and other desserts in Spring Branch’s neverias include ingredients likely never dreamed of in the pre-Columbian world. One of the most popular of these desserts, the mangonada, is a slushy made of ice, pureed mango, and tart, tangy chamoy – a syrup made of salted plums or other stone fruits, introduced by Mexico’s Asian immigrants in the 19th century.
While no one’s sure about the modern mangonada’s other origins, the iced, golden dessert seems to have first appeared on Mexican streets in the 2000s, making their way to Houston’s Mexican popsicle, or paleta shops, some 10 years later.
Now, Houston’s neverias are on a creative tear, each offering a bespoke menu mix of fresh, healthy ingredients such as mangos, cucumbers and peanuts, supplemented by salsas, psychedelic-colored gummy worms, ribbons and noodles.