Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake-only bakery, rose to fame after its Beverly Hills opening back in 2005. Against all odds, it made a name for its bite-size cakes at a time when the Atkins Diet was making far more headlines than sweet treats. The cupcake trend was on the rise (remember how we watched Carrie dish about her crush on Aidan Shaw over a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery?), and Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles, helped kickstart the craze.
Adults and children alike were on board with the reinvention of this American classic, and what began as a trend in the late 1990s and early 2000s, became an obsession that swept the nation — and the world. Celebrities were seen indulging in decadent cupcakes, and the general population followed suit. But with the 2008 introduction of the cake pop, the 2011 fixation on artisanal ice cream, the 2013 explosion of the cronut and the 2014 fall of Crumbs (which was once the world’s largest cupcake chain), folks wondered if the cupcake trend was coming to an end. Had high-end cupcakeries already enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame? As far as we have seen, the cupcake has proven resilient and the answer is no, the cupcake is not going anywhere. People are not willing to live in a world void of cupcakes, and thanks to bakers like Candace Nelson, they don’t have to.
Sprinkles Cupcakes Nashville: SOOOOO GOOD!
After experiencing the dot.com boom — and subsequent bust — firsthand, Candace decided to try her hand at pastry school. “You know, baking has always been a passion,” she shares. “I grew up baking with my mom, but I never thought I could make a living doing it. I wasn’t married, I had no kids, and I was young enough that if I did it and I fell flat on my face, that was fine. I would just pick myself up, dust myself off and try something else. And what ended up happening was I did make a living doing just that: baking.”
She quickly transitioned from creating special occasion cakes to crafting cupcakes; she wanted to bake something that was artful, yet fresh. Even now, Sprinkles bakes through the day following a just-in-time baking philosophy. “I prefer to make something that people can conceivably eat on a daily basis,” she says. This is what led her to the cupcake.
Sprinkles’ recipes are a product of Candace’s experimentation. Her personal favorite is the dark chocolate, which satisfies her chocoholic cravings. Another favorite is a less-sung hero: the banana cupcake. It is not an everyday flavor, so you have to catch it on its rotation day. We have Candace’s husband to thank for bringing the red velvet, a flavor now synonymous with Sprinkles, to the menu. Never a true fan of red velvet, Candace added her own twist to this classic recipe. “I always thought they were just tasteless cakes that were too bright. So I upped the cocoa factor to give it more of a chocolate-y flavor — I used a great Belgian cocoa, added a well-balanced cream cheese frosting that isn’t too tangy, a good mixture of butter and cream cheese, and I used less food coloring, so it has more of a burgundy tone,” she divulges.
Since the business first came to fruition, Sprinkles has not only expanded locations, but has expanded its product offerings, as well. In addition to the well-loved cupcakes, Sprinkles serves up homemade ice cream, freshly baked cookies and to-die-for mashups. The expansion of Sprinkles was organic. Candace tells us, “I am known for cupcakes, but I was ready for a new creative challenge.”
Being the first bakery of its kind, Sprinkles has paved the way for others like it. Candace was challenged with the desire to expand, while still maintaining the quality. “It has been a challenge, but I also think it has been our biggest success,” she affirms. For Candace, freshness, consistency and service are paramount. Even though the time spent with customers is brief, the staff is there to make you feel welcome and to ensure you have a special experience.
As Nashvillians, we are lucky to be able to experience the quality service and ingredients by traveling no farther than 12South. Sprinkles opened its 18th location in mid-December in this happening neighborhood. Candace always had Nashville on her radar; it was just about finding the right spot. As a close friend of Reese Witherspoon, whose Draper James store is next door to Sprinkles, she was lucky enough to have the inside scoop on the area. “It was kismet; it was perfect,” Candace says of the decision. The cupcakerie is situated inside the building that previously housed Becker’s Bakery. Although Sprinkles’ flavors are consistent across all locations, Candace would love to pay homage to the bakery, a family-owned operation that was in business for more than 75 years, by offering a cupcake that celebrates Becker’s famous ginger cherry cookie.
While the cupcakes themselves are Sprinkles’ main attraction, the cupcake ATM adds something different to the experience. Not only can you walk inside the quaint cupcake shop to satisfy your sweet tooth, but you can also satisfy a late-night craving with the ATM, which operates around the clock serving up tasty treats, day or night. As many great ideas do, this one began at 11 p.m. when Candace had a hankering for a cupcake. “It was a crazed moment during my second pregnancy,” she recalls. “I owned a cupcake bakery and I couldn’t get one at 11 p.m. So my husband and I had a funny what-if conversation, and this crazy idea became a reality. I always thought it would be a fun idea, but wouldn’t drive much business. In reality, people love to get cupcakes at night; even when the shop is open, they want to try the ATM because it is fun.”
Another thing that sets Sprinkles apart? They donate all unsold cupcakes to local homeless shelters and food banks. In Nashville, all items are donated to the Nashville Food Project.
Sprinkles captures the magic of childhood through its many flavors and colors, making it challenging to decide which treat to devour first. Yet it provides a level of sophistication not previously associated with cupcakes. By staying true to who they are and what they’re about — quality, freshness and service — Sprinkles continues to grow and evolve as a leader in the field of cupcakes, proving that the cupcake is, in fact, not dead.
Sprinkles is located at 2606 12th Ave. S. Nashville, TN 37204. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Learn more at (615) 712-6885 or visit Sprinkles.com.
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