Santa Cruz Fungi brings an unusual twist to popsicles: mushrooms

Katie Sarna and Paul Lazazzera selling their fungi-based popsicle fare.
(Jessica M. Pasko / Lookout Santa Cruz)

With flavors including key lion’s mane pie, chagalate and cordy creamsicle, Paul Lazazzera and Katie Sarna are introducing their mushroom-infused frozen treats at pop-ups around Santa Cruz County.

This story was originally featured in this week’s Lily Belli on Food newsletter. Be first the first to hear about food and drink news in Santa Cruz County — sign up for Lily’s email newsletter here and text alerts here.

A new local business is bringing mushroom-infused popsicles to the masses, with delicious results.

In 2021, Paul Lazazzera was burnt out from working as a special education teacher and needed a change.

“I told my wife, ‘Katie, I’m going to become a mushroom farmer,’” and amazingly, he said, she agreed. Soon, he was growing all sorts of mushrooms, but after throwing his back out one too many times, he turned to mushroom distribution. And then he got inspired to launch a line of mushroom-centric desserts after finding a “key lion’s mane pie” recipe he absolutely loved. From there, he was creating and selling mushroom mousses, but their short shelf life proved problematic, so he sought something that could be preserved for longer.

The answer? Popsicles. The Boulder Creek couple has now launched Santa Cruz Fungi, a line of mushroom-infused frozen treats. Don’t expect a classic rocket pop or boring old creamsicle here. SC Fungi’s lineup includes key lion’s mane pie and strawberry lion’s mint (which both use lion’s mane mushroom extract), chagalate (made with chaga mushroom extract) and cordy creamsicle (which uses cordyceps, of “The Last of Us” fame). All are organic, vegetarian (they use honey as a sweetener) and there are two main types — a water-based popsicle and creamy ones made with cashews, coconut milk and coconut oil. The popsicles are $7 a pop, and there’s even one for the dogs. They come in the form of a smiley face, served from a cart that’s been adorned with an adorable spotted umbrella that looks like a toadstool cap.

Santa Cruz Fungi's popsicle menu.
(Jessica M. Pasko / Lookout Santa Cruz)

So far, the reaction has been overwhelming positive, especially from the younger crowd, said Lazazzera.

“We’ve gotten a lot of ‘yummy!’ and ‘more!’ from kids,” he said, adding that adults are equally impressed and at least one patron was shocked the pops were dairy-free.

To grow the fledgling business, Sarna and Lazazzera have been leaning on partnerships with other local businesses like Mountain Feed & Farm Supply in Ben Lomond, where SC Fungi held its first popsicle pop-up. They’re also looking to participate in local farmers markets and events this summer.

You can find Santa Cruz Fungi’s frozen treats at the Humble Sea Tavern in Felton or at one of its upcoming pop-ups:

  • Friday, June 23, at Humble Sea on the Wharf from 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 1, at Humble Sea on the Wharf from 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 9, at Humble Sea’s Westside location from 1 to 5 p.m.

Follow Santa Cruz Fungi on Instagram to keep up on the latest happenings.