Few things provide that sudden hit of nostalgia like cotton candy. Right up there with peanuts and hot dogs, this classic, all-American treat captures memories of walking fairgrounds with wisps of pink atop a paper cone. And now, these clouds of fluff are receiving a grown-up makeover thanks to Ivory Cotton Bar. This Southern company maintains the treat’s sticky-sweet goodness while dressing it up with bold flavors, handcrafted toppings, and yes, alcohol-infused options.
Teneal Ivery created Nashville-based Ivory Cotton Bar in February of 2017 as a hobby that had the added benefit of making money. However, after learning of cotton candy’s Music City roots, Teneal turned the imaginative sweet into a full-time gig. “Cotton candy is a timeless treat for all ages,” Teneal tells us. “It typically puts an instant smile on people’s faces, so it only makes sense to work with something so fun and lighthearted.”
You may be surprised to learn this caramelized confection was the brainchild of a dentist. In 1897, Nashvillians Dr. William Morrison and candymaker John C. Wharton invented the machine that heats sugar in a spinning bowl, transforming it into soft strands of aptly named fairy floss. A few years later, in 1904, the two men introduced the treat to fair-goers at the World’s Fair in St. Louis and, as Teneal likes to joke, created job security for dentists everywhere.
Since then, there has not been much evolution in the cotton candy-making process, including the ingredients used. Ivory Cotton Bar set out to change that. They make all of their sugars in-house and create their own flavor profiles with high-quality, organic ingredients. “We knew early on that if we wanted to put a modern spin on cotton candy, we would have to branch outside of the old-school pink and blue, especially if we wanted to reach the growing health-conscious population,” explains Teneal. With this in mind, Ivory Cotton Bar prides itself in using natural ingredients, including fresh-squeezed lime juice (for their Key Lime Pie Cotton Candy) and frozen dried fruits ground into powders to create over 60 original flavors.
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Teneal’s favorite flavors are Orange Cream Sorbet in the warmer months and Campfire S’mores in the fall and winter. The company’s best-selling flavors alternate between Peach Cobbler, Strawberry Cheesecake and Tennessee Whiskey, but Teneal suggests everyone try Cookies and Cream, Maple Bacon and Ocean Water. They also offer alcohol-infused flavors, which undergo a seven-day soaking process to create, as Teneal describes it, “the adult version of cotton candy.” Tennessee Whiskey, Mimosa and Merlot flavors are available online, while Jägermeister, Fireball and other flavors are available upon request.
For those in Nashville and the surrounding areas, Teneal and her team are available for private parties, weddings and corporate events. In these cases, clients can completely customize their Ivory Cotton Bar experience — from what flavors are used to how they’re presented. For example, Maple Bacon Cotton Candy can be served around bacon on a stick, Bubble Gum Cotton Candy may be offered alongside a glass of bubbles, and Unicorn Cotton Candy can be wrapped around a glow stick. The options are truly endless!
This creativity has proven to be fruitful as Ivory Cotton Bar served up sweets at the E! People’s Choice Awards, on Kellie Pickler and Ben Aaron’s “Pickler & Ben” talk show, and now at the flagship Macy’s Herald Square store in Times Square. When asked what advice Teneal has for other entrepreneurs, she says, “My advice to entrepreneurs may be a bit unorthodox, but it is to one — never stop working on your business, but also never be too prideful to pivot. Two, create strong and streamlined processes early on. Three, build lasting relationships with clients and customers. And lastly, have an exit strategy.”
Through strategic planning, clever creations and a sprinkle of luck, Teneal and Ivory Cotton Bar have matured a childhood favorite into an unexpected, whimsical treat that stands out among a sea of artisan cupcakes and frozen delights. They’ve done so while keeping the syrupy magic of cotton candy’s charm alive, proving that cotton candy and its popularity will only disappear in your mouth.
Thank you for chatting with us, Teneal! Learn more about Ivory Cotton Bar and peruse their offerings at ivorycottonbarorganic.com.
All photos courtesy of Teneal Ivery and Ivory Cotton Bar unless otherwise noted.
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