Sprinkles Cupcakes, already an institution, has lines out the door and around the corner of their Beverly Hills shop. This never ceases to amaze me. I totally want my just desserts as much as the next collectista, but I must confess: I am a cupcake bottom discriminator. My entire life, I have exclusively consumed the cupcake tops, and discarded the bottoms. Try as they all may by adding surprising fillings and experimenting with palate-shocking flavors — no one can fool me. The bottom remains a mushy situation that leaves me with a moist paper cupcake liner and sticky fingers. Just when I was ready to give up on cupcakes altogether, I discovered Sprinkles Ice Cream Sandwiches. These perfect summer treats have, somehow, remained a bit under the radar. I needed to track down the genius behind Sprinkles to get the full scoop (sorry, couldn’t help myself).
Candace Nelson, a Wesleyan University graduate, started her career as a financial analyst and eventually wound up at Snap.com. When the dot-com bubble burst, she realized it was time to do something she really loved. Hence, Candace went to Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco where she earned her Certificate of Pastry Arts. In 2005, she combined her business and pastry backgrounds to launch Sprinkles Cupcakes. After about five years of growing the cupcake business, and doing everyday things like meeting Oprah and launching 24 hour cupcake ATM’s, Candace felt the need to return to the kitchen and create again. She wanted to bring back American, old fashioned ice cream…with a Sprinkles spin.
Always having been bothered by the messy proposition of how ice cream squishes out the sides of a traditional ice cream sandwich, she uses cupcake tops to resolve the issue and create the perfect textural juxtaposition of soft cake and cold ice cream in each and every bite. I have never met an ice cream flavor I didn’t love, but Sprinkles offerings take the cake (I know, can’t control myself today). They use an organic cream base, slow churn it, and then add things like artisanal American TCHO chocolate, toasted almonds, dragée pecans, caramelized cereals, roasted bananas, sautéed cherries, handmade marshmallow cream, and fresh cupcake crumbles to create their unique flavors. Between the cupcakes, cookies, and ice cream; Sprinkles is fast becoming the great American dessert brand. While collectistas coast to coast can currently satisfy their Sprinkles fix 24/7 via their cupcake ATM’s and shops around the country, Sprinkles is also available for overnight shipping anywhere in the U.S. Personally, I can’t wait to have a Sprinkles Ice Cream cart at my next summer fête!
WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS?
My process is mostly driven by my tastebuds, but I am open to suggestions from our customers. I have also collaborated with Blake Lively on a cupcake and Michael Strahan on an ice cream flavor, both for charity. I like to have fun with it…the goal is simply to create something delicious that will make our customers happy.
WHAT DO YOU COLLECT?
I love, love, love contemporary art and am fortunate to live in LA where there is such a vibrant community…from the artists who make their studios here, to the museums and galleries. It’s a very fulfilling passion. In fact, I consider it a continuing education. It has also informed my charitable initiatives, such as LAXART a not-for-profit art organization where I sit on the board.
WHAT IS YOUR THEME SONG?
“Happy” by Pharrell.
WHO IS THE PERSON WHO INSPIRES YOU MOST?
My great grandmother was a single mother and successful restauranteur in San Francisco during the Depression. She was very charitable, serving free meals to those on hard times out the back door of her restaurants. Her legacy informs the Sprinkles mission.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PHILANTHROPIC CAUSE?
Baby2Baby is an amazing organization that works with over 60 non profit organizations in LA distributing diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. They serve over 75,000 low-income children. I particularly love their wonderful monthly “playdates” that give families special experiences they don’t otherwise get the opportunity to have together. The kids always leave with big bags of essential items like socks and underwear, warm PJs and jackets, shampoo, books, toys and more. And of course, when I’m there, a cupcake!
Sprinkles Cupcakes (multiple locations)
9635 South Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA