Vintage Kitchen: Q&A with Candace Nelson

I chatted with the queen bee of cupcakes, Candace Nelson, founder of the Los Angeles dessert juggernaut Sprinkles Cupcakes, who just debuted the world’s first cupcake inspired ice cream shop and cupcake ATM. A fan of American classics, Candace shares with us her favorite retro housewife, favorite childhood television show, and favorite cupcake flavor.

Which retro housewife would you have liked to sit with after school and share a cupcake and a glass of milk?
Lucy Ricardo! Sharing a cupcake with the spunky and mischievous housewife would be a riot. I’d probably bring her a red velvet in honor of her famous hair!

Cupcakes are an absolute old school favorite. What do you think it is about the cupcake that people seem to connect with? 

Cupcakes are pure nostalgia! People are excited to rediscover something they had always loved from childhood but re-purposed to suit their grown up tastes. 

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Are you a traditionalist? Or do you enjoy the fun flavors Sprinkles continues to create, like salted caramel or lemon coconut?

Sprinkles dark chocolate cupcakes are my all-time go-to favorite. However, I also anxiously await appearances by our salty caramel and s’more cupcakes each season. 

Your new ice cream shop combines two greats into one, the cupcake and ice cream! Tell us about your new ice cream flavors, the cupcake touches, and what the story is on the Sprinkles ice cream sandwich.

Sprinkles Ice Cream is slow churned to incorporate less air for a densely creamy and flavorful ice cream. Traditionalists will love our vanilla bean, strawberry and coffee flavors while more adventurous foodies may opt for salty caramel, cap’n crunch or butter pecan studded with caramelized pecan dragees. Other menu items include red velvet waffle cones, crumbled cupcake toppings, cupcake sundaes, cupcake shakes and the decadent Sprinkles Sandwich – a heaping scoop of your favorite ice cream flavor pressed between two fluffy cupcake tops! We wanted to give the traditional ice cream sandwich a Sprinkles twist!

Sprinkles has led the way to the popularity of the cupcakery. What’s your take on its place in a neighborhood and what kind of comfort it evokes within a community?

When we opened in Beverly Hills seven years ago, we quickly came to know our regular customers as well as their favorite flavors. When we regularly saw familiar faces for birthdays, special occasions, or just for an afternoon treat, it was clear Sprinkles was becoming part of our customers' lives! It’s funny to think that a little neighborhood boy who was only seven when he first started coming to Sprinkles with his mom is now in high school bringing his buddies by!

What’s your favorite television show today and from your childhood?

Today I love Modern Family, but when I was a kid, it was all about Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties!

Thank you, Candace!

Cindy Arora spent fourteen years working as a  newspaper journalist before switching over to magazines and then to online media. She stumbled into food writing thanks in large part to being a waitress, coffee barista, caterer, bartender, cheese girl, cocktail waitress and shot girl for most of her adult life. Cindy was a staff writer at The San Gabriel Valley Tribune,  The Orange County Register, The Stockton Record, and Sacramento Magazine. She has also  freelanced for Saveur,  Orange Coast Magazine, Edible Los Angeles, Tasting Table, Pasadena Weekly and was dining editor for Fodor’s Travel Guides, Los Angeles. Cindy lives in Los Angeles with her young son, Grey. She is hard at work on her first novel, Heartbreak Cake.