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THE PARENTING BIZ – Carnival Cuisine: Fun Food For The Fam Jam
By Jim Murphy
Although the COVID-19 pandemic meant no fairs, concerts and outdoor festivals last year — and possibly this summer as well, if restrictions are not lifted — we still want to help you find your favourite carnival treats. After all, for many, the best part of a carnival is the food!
Cotton candy, popcorn, candy apples and other sweets are always available at area businesses. You just need to know where to look!
Here are a few spots you and your family can order or pickup from, in Windsor and Essex County, when you crave those yummy “Carnival Eats” . . .
Fluffy, Colourful Cotton Candy Dreams
Located at 492 Blanchard Park in Tecumseh, River Bend Cotton Candy Co. offers 45 different flavours of gourmet cotton candy made with high quality ingredients.
“We supply cotton candy for birthday parties, special events, corporate events, wedding favours, champagne cotton candy for champagne table displays and drink glitter bombs — so it’s not just for kids,” notes Denise Spearing, Owner of River Bend Cotton Candy Co. “Our cotton candy is made from all-natural ingredients, contains no dyes, no artificial colours or flavours, is gluten free, nut free, pareve/kosher and certified vegan.”
Among the tub flavours to choose from are: banana, lychee, pineapple, peppermint, watermelon, vanilla, root beer, mango, passion fruit, lemon, coconut, cherry, champagne, cheesecake and caramel.
Although the business was just established, in February 2021, Spearing brings more than 25 years of experience in the entertainment and event business to her new company.
“We love working with the public,” she says. “Cotton candy brings happiness to everyone in a nostalgic kind of way.” (She even has “Wedding Bliss” favours for the big day!)
As an online based distribution company, Spearing and her staff of four have taken every precaution necessary to keep their customers safe during the pandemic.
Pick up is available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at their storefront, and packages can be shipped through Canada Post.
Popcorn Party Time
Located at 1375 Tecumseh Road East since 2020, What’s Poppin’ Popcorn Factory offers more than 22 popcorn flavours including: double sugar, Madagascar, cinnamon sugar, movie theatre, dill pickle, cheddar pickle, bacon cheddar, orange cheddar, white cheddar, garlic parmesan, jalapeno cheddar, bar-b-que, ketchup, ranch, sea salt/black pepper, milk chocolate peanut butter, banana split, dark chocolate drizzle, salt and vinegar, jalapeno dill, birthday cake, cookies and cream, caramel crunch, tuxedo, cinnamon bun, plus their own brand of sweet and salty kettle corn.
“We are proud to have opened our first store in the neighbourhood where my husband grew up,” mentions Christa Gamble, Co-Owner of What’s Poppin’ Popcorn Factory, along with her husband Jeff. “He lived on Chilver and attended Hugh Beaton Public School and Walkerville High School.”
Before opening the storefront, Jeff and Christa had operated a mobile popcorn trailer, since 2018.
“My husband started in the industry in 2009 as a vendor at the local fairs in Windsor and Essex County as a side hobby to make a little extra money,” Gamble recalls. “We met the following year and expanded into farmers’ markets, pop-up locations, special events, popcorn bars, gift baskets and fundraising. I recently left my career to join forces, on a full-time basis, so we could take the company in the direction it is now heading.”
Today, they have seven employees and are growing fast!
“We are booked for the entire Downtown Windsor Farmers’ Market season every Saturday and are hoping to get back to our local festivals and ‘Bright Lights’ at Christmas,” Gamble tells Biz X. “In spring of 2021 we will be opening a patio and an ice cream parlour in order to offer soft serve concoctions like sundaes, cones, and milkshakes, in many flavours.”
As a family-run company they take pride in what they do, and it shows!
“We are creative and always want our customers to have new things to try,” Gamble states. “Mixing flavours together and taking suggestions help us with continuous improvement.”
Recently, What’s Poppin’ Popcorn Factory hired a culinary student from St. Clair College to be their Gourmet Popcorn Collection Specialist. She makes all the chocolate drizzle products and helps create new flavours that customers are going crazy for.
Rounding out the product line-up are gift baskets, popcorn bars, event favours and bulk options. They also offer a fundraising platform for any organization to use, called “Poppin’ with a Purpose” with pails of popcorn sold to help in fundraising efforts.
During the most recent COVID-19 lockdown they chose to close the storefront and offer curbside pickup, shipping and lots of window shopping! Online orders were also accepted on their website: GreatPopcorn.ca and of course still are 24/7.
“As a food store, we were allowed to be open, but we felt it was safer for everyone to close shop,” Gamble says. “Having a COVID plan, sign-in book and a staff knowledgeable on procedures made things easier.”
As of March 2021 the business re-opened (along with others when restrictions were lifted) for in-store shopping. Be sure to “pop” on by their store soon and check out their new patio too!