Fluffy. Velvety. Sticky Sweet.
These things whip up into the most famous product of the Bang Candy Company in Nashville: the marshmallow.
Against the rough brick walls of the store hangs a framed pink and white poster, embellished with a quote summing up the store’s vibe and leaving customers with a smile:
“Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy marshmallows, which are kinda the same thing.”
Simply put and quite accurate for a company built around these soft and springy squares of sugar and gelatin.
“The marshmallows are definitely our best-selling item,” said Bang Candy Company store manager Stephanie Clark.
Her personal favorite? The black currant absinthe. This bold flavor with sweet undertones keeps customers on their toes and coming back for more.
The marshmallow itself hails from Egypt, once used for remedying sore throats. Its rarity allowed for only pharaohs to enjoy them.
Sarah Souther, Bang Candy Company owner, hails from Ireland.
Her company started in 2010 when she got her first taste of this dessert fit for rulers at a restaurant. She realized she could make an even tastier treat on her own.
The same night her interest first piqued with the taste of a handmade marshmallow, her new business came to life.
Returning home from dinner, Souther excitedly began to experiment with flavors of her own – bringing to life rosewater and ground cardamom marshmallows.
The first of many daring flavors.
Her first perfected batch led to a friend requesting a shoebox full of the treats for her birthday, and as word of mouth spread, Souther ended up booking an order for 400 boxes for Christmas gifts that year.
Today, customers can walk into the store at their leisure and purchase the marshmallows for just $1 each.
With just one bite, the pillowy creation remains on the lips and mind of any customer lucky enough to have the marshmallow experience of a lifetime.
For those with a sweet tooth, Bang offers clever combinations of toasted coconut almond, the original rose cardamom, and a raspberry orange blossom.
But if one craves a more savory or unexpected bite – try the spicy margarita, the chocolate chili, or the Whisper Creek bourbon treats.
Naked or dipped? The choice is that of the customer as he or she determines if they prefer the squares half-dipped in rich Belgian chocolate or would rather enjoy the unique flavor on its own.
For the sweet fans out there – go for dipped. Equally delicious but extra sweet.
These silky ‘mallows aren’t the only thing Bang Candy offers. It boasts a bold menu of sugary delights and several homemade candies.
Customers can get their orders to go or sit in the shop, enjoying these treats with views of the bustling store and the marshmallow creation process.
In a way, the store feels like home with the soft music flowing from a refurbished jukebox and its laid back vibe.
Boot heels click their way up the brick pathway, and a bell chimes as the door swings open. Lungs immediately fill with the sugary aroma – making the mouths of customers water.
Hand-made, bright pink paper chains hang among the dark red brick walls, joined by additional red, pink and white decorations from the recently passed Valentine’s holiday.
Customers lounge at pastel-colored vintage tables and chairs, which line the storefront windows, looking out to the rest of Marathon Village.
Energy bubbles throughout the store as customers get a taste of the latest confections, employees arrange gift baskets, and laughter sneaks over the glass panel separating the cashier from the candy making.
Bottles of Bang’s original simple syrups line the counter, wrapped in bright labels with their signature logo – two pistols crossing with the words “The Bang Candy Company” on top.
Inspired by Souther’s silk paintings, the logo represents the company’s willingness to push the limits.
“Sarah is uncompromising to do anything plain,” said Clark.
A single mother. A yoga instructor. A silk artist.
Both the company she created and Souther’s life fall far from plain, indeed.
At 25, Souther packed her bags and set out from her native Ireland, moving to Nashville to follow her heart and find the next great adventure.
She moved for love but found a love completely unexpected.
Souther spent her first years in Nashville working tirelessly at several jobs to support her family until candy finally gave her a soft, squishy, sweet place to land.
The marshmallow led Souther to uncover her talents in a sweeter world.
As the company grew, she created Bang Candy’s unique simple syrups, which include flavors fused together of pineapple jalapeño cilantro, habanero lime and peach basil nectar.
Also added to the menu: baked goods including savory and sweet scones, pecan bars, and cookies baked fresh daily.
A variety of “boozy caramels,” made with flavors of Belle Meade and Whisper Creek bourbons and Corsair Red Absinthe, can also be found next to the famous marshmallows.
Shoppers’ taste buds excite with each new possibility.
The store consistently buzzes with interested pallets, but the largest audience of taste testers seems to come from out of town.
“We see a lot of tourists come in,” said Clark. “They come on the tour busses that stop for people to walk around the area.”
With stores such as Island Cowgirl Jewelry, Antique Archeology Nashville, made famous from TV show “American Pickers,” and Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery, Marathon Village remains a place where those from out of town turn for interesting finds.
And Bang Candy delivers.
Taste Bang Candy’s one-of-a-kind treats at 1300 Clinton Street, or get a sugar fix at one of the other local vendors carrying Souther’s handmade candy.
Local coffee shops throughout the city have teamed up with the company, offering Bang’s products to caffeine-crazed Nashvillians getting their fix at all hours of the day.
Frothy Monkey, located in the 12th South neighborhood, partnered with Bang Candy, featuring the handmade marshmallows atop specialty drinks, and Fido coffee house in Hillsboro Village sells a select variety of the marshmallows and other candies at its counter.
Sparkle Bark – the peppermint bark made with pink chocolate that literally sparkles in the sunlight – caught the eye of frequent coffee-shop goer, Christine Hillmann.
“I made a comment about the Sparkle Bark to a friend and the barista told me about the candy store’s full-time location in Marathon Village,” said Hillmann, “I had never heard of it but am so glad I’ve tried it out.”
Two other barks of Souther’s creation: Bark In The Dark, “chocolate laced with popping candy,” and the Firecracker Bark including “hot spices and pop rocks.”
Dying for these one-of-a-kind treats on the go?
The Bang Candy Company also owns The Coco Van, a mobile candy shop available to attend special occasions.
Operating similar to a food truck, The Coco Van travels through Nashville and sets up shop at parties, festivals and other outings.
“It’s actually a log cabin on wheels,” says Souther.
The log cabin on wheels may prove the greatest example yet of how Souther avoids anything ordinary.
Pulled behind Souther’s car, The Coco Van first set out as a mobile hot chocolate station, bringing warmth and sweetness to the people of Nashville during the colder months. But recently the traveling shop evolved into a full-blown candy store on wheels.
The main event of this mobile shop, though? The marshmallows.
They may fit in just the palm of a hand, but the power and deliciousness of these 1-inch cubes defines unstoppable.
Souther’s own sugar rush began the day she experimented with marshmallows and discovered a love for candy creation.
Rose cardamom, the flavor Souther created that first night, still stands as a staple among the daily selection of marshmallows at the shop in Marathon Village.
Nashvillians may not be pharos from ancient Egypt, but thanks to Souther they all can enjoy these luxurious treats like one.