The Sweet Life

The Sweet Life

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Ashley Schindler holds a Sugar, Spice + Everything Nice, one of her cotton candy creations, at The Virgil in Reno

Sierra Sugar Co. elevates cotton candy to an ethereal level.

A crystal-wearing fairy godmother lives among us. But instead of turning pumpkins into coaches, this fairy magically turns organic sugar and air into puffy confections on a paper stick and delivers them to attendees at weddings, events, and parties.

Ashley Schindler started her Reno-Tahoe-area cotton candy business, Sierra Sugar Co., after giving birth to her son three years ago. The California native and Nevada transplant grew up cooking and baking with her family and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, but burned out working in restaurants. Eventually, the Sierra snow inspired her sweet new business.

“I’m in love with all things sparkly, like crystals, nature, snow, and fractals. I love cotton candy because it’s simple, sweet, and everyone loves it,” Schindler says. “It’s nostalgic, and it has been labeled as a baseball park treat, but it’s actually this molecular miracle that has been overlooked. It’s magical, and I want to expose how beautiful it can be.”

Sugar Mama

It’s difficult not to smile when eating cotton candy, and luckily there are no pink- and blue-stained teeth with Schindler’s delights. Her cotton candy is pure white, and for flair and flavor, she lightly adds her own natural flavorings, sprinkles, and spices on each puff.

The matcha cotton candy is topped with real matcha powder, the chocolate version is sprinkled with cocoa dust, and the spiced apple is dusted with cinnamon powder. Floral and fruit flavors such as vanilla, honey lavender, rose, and jasmine are perfect for weddings. Traditional flavors such as strawberry with real strawberry dust are a popular choice for children’s parties.

Schindler spins her creations from a white cart built by her husband, which can be personalized with the name of a wedding couple or birthday boy or girl. The cotton candy machine heats up to 550 degrees F to melt the sugar and spins the airy threads through minuscule holes.

“It’s like spinning silk; it’s absolutely magical,” Schindler says. “On a perfectly windless day, I can be spinning a puff and pulling it out of the machine while a growing fabric of sugar dances its way onto the puff.”

Schindler’s exuberance for beauty comes out in her love of the earth. She packages her cotton candy in reusable Mason jars. The only waste from her creations is the biodegradable paper sticks.

“What I love most about my business is that it brings out the little, excited kid in all of us, and that’s what I want to do,” Schindler adds. “The time was right to create something simple and elegant and just make people happy.”

For details, visit Sierrasugarco.com.

Washoe Valley-based writer Christina Nellemann attempted to save some of Sierra Sugar Co.’s succulent honey lavender cotton candy for later and failed miserably.

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