Q&A: Sprinkles Founder Candace Nelson
The cupcake guru dishes on her new stores, the craziest cupcake she’s ever eaten, and more.
November 21, 2012
Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson has had a busy year—from developing the world’s first cupcake ATM to debuting the first-ever Sprinkles Ice Cream store in Beverly Hills, all while filming the eighth season of Cupcake Wars, it’s a wonder she ever has time to stop and smell the Belgian dark chocolate. In fact, since Nelson and her husband Charles first opened Sprinkles in 2005, the franchise has exploded. In addition to the aforementioned ATMs and an ice cream shop, the Sprinkles brand now includes ten bakeries, a roving cupcake truck, a line of mixes at Williams & Sonoma, and no plans of slowing down soon.
Outposts of the cupcake bakery will open at The Grove just in time for Black Friday (November 23, 10 AM) and in Downtown LA this December, while Sprinkles Ice Cream will come to Newport Beach this spring…and that’s just what’s going on in California. Meanwhile, all locations are serving up specialty holiday flavors, so be on the lookout for chocolate and vanilla peppermint cupcakes and pumpkin ice cream. Nelson gave us the scoop on her new stores, her flavors, and how Sprinkles gives back to the community.
Tells us about The Grove store opening?
CANDACE NELSON: What’s amazing about The Grove store is that we’re going into such an iconic LA location. We’re going where the old concierge desk was, it’s only 500 square feet and it’s behind glass so you won’t be able to go into the store, you walk up to a glass counter. But we’re going to be baking fresh all day just like we do at all of our stores. We’re really excited about people being able to access this location, everyone I know certainly goes to The Grove and it’s such a family location.
When you have a cupcake craving, which flavor do you reach for?
CN: I am such a chocoholic, so I love our dark chocolate. I also love our banana cupcake, I think it’s one of the best cupcakes we do. Of course this time of year I’m into the pumpkin flavor—it’s all pumpkin all the time for me.
How did you come up with the Cupcake ATM concept?
CN: It’s kind of funny because people are like, ‘you can’t possibly still eat the cupcakes!’ and I’m going on our eighth season of Cupcake Wars and eighth year of owning a cupcake bakery but I still love cupcakes. I was pregnant with my second son, it was the middle of the night and I was laughing with my husband, ‘I am jonesing for a cupcake, and even I can’t get my hands on one and I own a darn cupcake business!’ So we started brainstorming, ‘how can we get a cupcake in the middle of the night?’ And the idea basically came from that. Just a fun, crazy idea, but we didn’t understand that it would actually take off the way it did.
Have you been inspired by any of the dishes on Cupcake Wars?
CN: A lot of times in a competition environment, it doesn’t always translate to what people will buy in a retail environment. I’ve eaten fried crickets on my cupcake on the show, but that’s nothing that we’re going to be putting on the shelf at Sprinkles!
Was the cricket cupcake the craziest thing you’ve eaten?
CN: I would say that was up there along with the mayonnaise and tuna cupcake. That’s still with me. When a cupcake is set down in front of you and the only smell that hits your nostrils is mayonnaise, you know something isn’t right.
Tell us about the charity work Sprinkles does.
CN: We do promotional cupcakes throughout the year that go toward various causes—environmental, women’s causes, education. Anytime there’s a disaster unfortunately going on throughout the world, we’ll typically use our red velvet to raise money for a good cause. That’s always been part of the mission and we’re just so fortunate that we’ve been able to do it.