If revenge is a dish best served cold, Aleric "AJ" Constantin has just the recipe for Miami cops. The 26-year-old chef, who made headlines at last month's Critical Mass when police arrested him for selling ice cream without a license, plans to debut a new flavor around town next month: "Po-Po Pops," a nod to the officers who threw him in jail June 28.
"I'm making a funny matter out of a bad situation," Constantin says.
As Miami's Critical Mass ride, held the last Friday of each month, has grown from a few hundred riders to thousands, Constantin has become a fixture at the event. The chef at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink custom-built a bicycle with a refrigerator to sell his gourmet ice creams.
But tensions between bikers and cops have grown with the size of the group, which generally starts downtown and cycles as a giant peloton through the city.
At June's ride, a Mount Sinai doctor was accused of hitting two cyclists as he drove through the crowd. Then, Constantin had his run-in with police. As he was standing across the street from the downtown bar the Filling Station, the ride's usual ending point, he says he saw cops harassing cyclists about blocking traffic. Then they turned to him -- the guy with the basil ice cream infused with balsamic marshmallow fluff and crushed waffle cone -- and began demanding to see his permits.
Constantin maintains his paperwork was in order and the Filling Station had given him permission to sell there. But police say he'd been warned not to sell ice cream and resisted arrest. As AJ was booked, onlookers threw bottles and cans in outrage.
Constantin ended up spending more than a day in jail.
But he's spent the time since turning the sour experience into a sweet new flavor.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"When I come up with my flavors, I like to base them around a scene event," he says. "It's not making fun of cops, but I just thought of the typical clichés -- pigs, so bacon, Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons sitting around eating doughnuts and coffee and not doing much else."
The result: protest popsicles made of Krispy Kreme-flavored ice cream, candied bacon, and fudge. Constantin won't sell them at this Friday's Critical Mass -- he says he wants to take a month just to enjoy the ride -- but he will offer them for $4 each beginning in August at various events around town.
As he awaits his August 19 court appearance, Constantin says he's not overly worried about the police-tweaking treats causing further trouble. "They need to reprioritize their efforts if they're freaking out over ice cream," he says.