Sugar-Spun Dreams
Photography By Ivory Cotton Bar.

A few years back, I was invited to the Pennsylvania Farm Show with a friend. After spending a few hours admiring tiny goats and fuzzy alpacas, and petting a variety different-haired rabbits we wandered into the huge food hall. When I saw the cotton candy, my nostalgia overtook me in my quest for nutrition. I was able to feel the unique feeling of it melting into nothing as I put a pink sugary cloud in my mouth. I was so happy!

It was that nostalgia and giddiness that Teneal Ivery, an entrepreneur, tapped into when she started her business, Ivory Cotton Bar. She says, “I loved the idea of a product that lightens up people’s faces with childhood memories and nostalgia.” After the death of my grandmother, I wanted to make something meaningful with my spare time. I thought cotton candy was a great way to start my own business because of its simplicity and low cost.

Ivery always dreamed of starting her own business. However, it wasn’t something that was very common in her family. This is partly because it was more risky. She began to think about her options after she received her MBA. She recalls that she told herself, “I believed I could do it, but I didn’t tell anyone beforehand because I was afraid of being second-guessed.” Although Ivery had never been an entrepreneur before, Ivery credits her natural instincts, passion for creating, as well as her keen interest in macro- and micro-economics for putting her on the right path to sweet success. The business grew quickly after her pop-up at the Nashville farmers market was so well-received.

(c) Ivory Cotton Bar

A Nashville Novelty

Speaking of the Music City, this place played a crucial role in the history of cotton candy when dentist William Morrison and candymaker John C. Wharton invented machine-spun cotton candy there in 1897. They first introduced the Fairy Floss to a wide audience at the 1904 World’s Fair with great success, selling 68,655 boxes at twenty-five cents per box (the equivalent of $7. 31 nowadays). However, the history of spun sugar actually goes all the way back to fifteenth-century Venice, where pastry chefs would caramelize sugar and use forks to drizzle
The hot syrup should be poured onto a broom handle. You can then mold the threads into amazing creations. Sugar was rare at the time and considered a treat only for the wealthy.

Cotton candy, as we know it today, didn’t exist until the Industrial Revolution when the mentioned Morrison and Wharton came together. The machine had an electric heating element that could melt sugar. It was designed by the two men. The hot syrup would be pushed through the tiny holes of the funnel by centrifugal forces, while the outer bowl would contain the spun sugar. The melting sugar was not allowed to crystallize because the process was so fast.

(c) Ivory Cotton Bar

All aboard the flavor train

Pink used to be the most popular flavor and color, but cotton candy has improved. Ivery started with just a few flavors she had ordered online. But she wanted to make her product stand apart and have fun. Ivery was also committed to using organic sugar and natural flavorings, and colorings. Ivery began creating her own flavors like Maple Bacon or Sea Salted Caramel. These are just a few of the crowd pleasers.

With innovative flavors on their menu, Ivory Cotton Bar soon branched into the large-scale events sector with gigs at E! People’s Choice Awards and LinkedIn. Local carpenter was hired to create custom carts that could be transported in an SUV or sedan. Ivery finds it both fun and meaningful to provide such a timeless treat in innovative ways. Adults try to keep their cool while kids go wild

Ivory Cotton Bar cotton can be purchased in many local shops as well as online. Ivery is working hard to increase her online presence, expand her shelf space in larger stores and start a food truck. Five women make up her team, all of whom value teamwork and good customer service. They also value consistency and quality products. Ivery recalls her insecurity as a first-time entrepreneur and offers this advice to young entrepreneurs: “Just do what it takes!” Don’t hesitate. Do not waste your time looking for reasons to stop. Instead, think about the reasons to begin .”

I am sure this isn’t what she meant. However, I used Ivery’s advice to get started eating cotton candy. I ordered a few boxes of the sweet treat and a Purple Rain flavor. (Shout out to Prince. This just shows that Ivory Cotton Bar offers something for everyone, young and old.

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