CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The cotton candy sold at Cotton Candy Celebrations, a small business run by Marti and Kylynn Derringer, tastes just like that which you’d expect to eat at a carnival — almost.
The fluffy texture is the same and so is the melt-in-your-mouth sensation. Unlike traditional cotton candy, though, that created by the mother-daughter duo has over 30 unique flavors, including peach, orange creamsicle and blue raspberry lemonade.
The duo buys premixed scented sugars from Gold Medal Sugars, a national cotton candy supply company, but will oftentimes mix sugars together to create new flavors. Their seasonal chocolate caramel latte, for example, is popcorn caramel seasoning combined with birthday cake and chocolate cotton candy flavoring. Orange creamsicle consists of both orange and birthday cake cotton candy twisted together.
Locals can find their 16- or 12-ounce cotton candy–filled bubble cups at local craft fairs and place custom orders by messaging the Cotton Candy Celebration’s Facebook or Instagram pages. The duo is also open to creating outside-the-cup items. Their Glitter Bombs, for example, are puffs of cotton candy filled with edible glitter that can be poured into a drink. One time, the pair even fulfilled a request for a stacked cake made entirely out of rainbow cotton candy.
“I like that people are starting to call us for things that I never thought we would do,” Marti said.
The Derringers were inspired to start a cotton candy business during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Marti inherited a cotton candy machine from Goins Elementary School. The Goins’s Parent Teacher Organization bought the machine years ago and occasionally set up cotton candy booths at school functions. When COVID-19 prevention measures canceled those events, the PTO asked Marti, a kindergarten teacher and member of the organization, if she would like to buy it.
Marti said making cotton candy has always been a therapeutic experience for her.
“Some people have hobbies like running or exercising,” she said. “I like to stand there and just make cotton candy. It’s a great way to zone out and chill.”
Sensing a sweet opportunity, Marti recruited her youngest daughter, Kylynn, to help her start Cotton Candy Celebrations. Running the business as a mother-daughter duo can be tough at times, Marti said, but the two always balance each other out.
“[Kylynn] is just like me,” she said. “We butt heads sometimes, but most of the time it’s just fun. We compliment each other well on what we do.”
Marti likes the socializing aspect of running Cotton Candy Celebrations, while Kylynn, who is a recent graduate from South High and first-year student at Laramie County Community College, likes to handle the business side.
“I go to school for business and accounting,” Kylynn said. “I like watching the money and organizing the spreadsheets and how we’re doing it, even figuring out sticker designs and social media.”
One of her favorite parts about running Cotton Candy Celebrations is getting to meet new customers and watching them enjoy the sweet products.
“Sometimes we’re just out and about and people are like, “You’re the cotton candy people,'” Kylynn said, “and we’re like, ‘Yeah!'”
Like Kylynn, Marti hopes the business can have a positive impact on people. The duo often donates their profits to help out local schools or community members in need.
“It feels like we’re building a fun cotton candy community,” Marti said.