Allison Andersen: Spinning sweet success
Like most kids growing up in Utah, Allison Andersen loved going to Lagoon in the summers. But her fondest memories of the Farmington amusement park weren’t of roller coasters, slippery slides or arcade games—they were of cotton candy.
“I’ve always had an obsession with it, ever since I was a little girl,” she says. Now, that obsession has turned into a successful and ever-growing business.
Andersen is founder and owner of Lollipuff Cotton Candy. The Spanish Fork-based entrepreneur had toyed for many years with the idea of buying a cotton candy machine just for her family. But when she learned of a woman in California who catered weddings by making cotton candy onsite, a business idea came to mind.
“I told my husband what I wanted to do and he said, ‘Go for it,’” she recalls. “I did some research online and bought my first machine, and there was a lot of trial and error. In fact, it took me a good six months to find the right machine to do what I wanted it to do.”
For Andersen, it meant having the ability to make different flavors and different colors of cotton candy, and to be able to spin more than one flavor at a time. The more flavors she offered, the more customers she attracted.
“Every customer wants their own experience, and that’s been a huge part of our success,” she says. “Our machines aren’t big or bulky or loud, so they work when we cater indoor events. And we have three machines that allow us to spin cones for individual customers fairly quickly, in somewhere between 30 and 40 seconds. We can turn out around 120 cones an hour.”
One of her favorite phrases, as she boasts on the company’s website, is that “Pink is not a flavor.” Through research and some mixing and matching of ingredients, Andersen can now offer up to 55 flavors. A business partner makes premix for some of the flavors in a commercial kitchen space, and as Lollipuff caters parties or outside events, a wide variety of unique and popular flavors of cotton candy have emerged.
“Some of the most requested ones are hot chili pepper (which surprised me in a way because it’s so spicy, but they love it), atomic fire ball, black licorice, lavender and carrot cake,” she says. She also offers seasonal flavors, such as pumpkin eggnog and gingerbread.
“I’m always open to suggestions, and we’ve had a few that haven’t quite worked out yet,” she says, pointing out that efforts to create a peanut butter and jelly flavor were abandoned because some customers have a peanut allergy.
Plans for expansion this summer will include adding two more machines and working at farmer’s markets, city festivals and of course many catered events. Her vision includes partnering with food trucks, packaging product for wholesale and maybe even a store front in the future. She celebrated her second anniversary in business in May, with bookings constantly on the rise.
“We want to bring our cotton candy to more and more customers,” she says. “I also want to develop something else unique—cotton candy animal shapes. We’re working on a unicorn, an owl, a bear and a flamingo, as well as creating a pineapple.”
Sounds like more sweet ideas, and sweet business success, coming from her lifelong obsession with cotton candy.