The Candy Cloud Factory opened on the far end of Phillips Avenue over the summer. The franchise originally started in Mitchell, setting up shop across from the most iconic attraction in South Dakota — the Corn Palace. According to Keloland, the store in Mitchell (which is actually called Jesse’s Candy Clouds) started after the owner, Jesse, received a cotton candy machine as a gag gift and started selling cotton candy at events.
I wanted to find out what the clout was about. I dragged a Mirror staff member along with me so I wouldn’t have to face the sugar rush alone. We sauntered in at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday to rambunctious kids flying around the store, clearly not in any dire need of sugar.
The ~vibes~ of the store were off. Aside from a few colorful chairs, the room was white and very plain. The first thing I noticed upon entering was the lack of any background music commonly found in candy stores. The sounds of the rowdy children were amplified by the high ceilings and the silence of everything else. (My personal hell, honestly).
Every table is topped with a fish bowl filled with hand wipe packets — a smart idea for the sticky residue cotton candy can leave on your fingertips. I thought about sneaking a few extra packets for when I have Cheeto dust stuck on my hands.
The store offers about 18 different flavors, ranging from seasonal fall spice to other obscurities like banana, pina colada and birthday cake. For the most part, the flavors sound like Laffy Taffy flavors: sassy apple, grape, blue raspberry, cherry.
One item on the menu caught my eye: the “magical burrito.” A behemoth of three cotton candy flavors with ice cream stuffed inside like a burrito and topped with fruity pebbles. I ordered this as my prey for the afternoon’s snack.
It took almost 25 minutes before we were served, even though there was only one family in front of us in line. Two reviews on Google mentioned that they had waited over an hour to get their cotton candy.
After a painfully long silence and the line growing behind us, the employee pulled the cotton candy out of the machine and put it on a plate, where it immediately deflated. He sighed, then told us that the cotton candy machines were broken and that we should buy one of the pre-made cotton candy bags. Otherwise, it “would take forever to make” what we had originally ordered.
Wanting to indulge in capitalism and also not leave empty-handed, I bought one of the rainbow-colored bags stuffed with six flavors of
cotton candy, each a different corresponding color.
However, I found that four of the six flavors tasted identical. I attempted to try the flavors first and then guess their flavor, but that was a fail since most of them literally tasted like — get this — cotton candy. They tasted like sugar. It was like trying to argue that the marshmallows in Lucky Charms each have a different flavor. Newsflash: The shooting star marshmallow tastes the same as the balloon shaped one.
Overall, the experience proved futile, like playing a game of Candy Land against your younger cousin who throws tantrum fits when they lose. The anticlimactic ending of eating $8 of just colored sugar wasn’t worth the long and awkward wait. You can buy cotton candy in gas stations for more ease and a cheaper price tag and, in my opinion, the flavor would be on par.
If you’re looking for a sugar fix downtown, I’d rather recommend a French pastry from CH Patisserie, an alcohol-inspired cupcake from Intoxibakes, a slice of cake from Queen City Bakery or a good old-fashioned milkshake from Phillips Avenue Diner. The Candy Cloud Factory is far removed from the bustle of downtown and isolated on the ground floor of an apartment complex. It is better suited for a niche environment, like their Mitchell location across from the Corn Palace.