I wouldn’t classify myself as a cotton candy guy. I may eat it once a year, but that’s about it. I’ve never been one to crave it or seek it out. It usually finds me first.
So, I wasn’t sure how well-received a cotton candy store would fare in a quaint little town like Belmont, NC. Sure, people be curious and they would even want to try it. But would they keep coming back?
After only a few weeks into the Cotton Candy Factory phenomenon and the answer to that question is a resounding “YES!”.
They say life is about the journey, not the destination. So you can imagine the journey those tiny granules of sugar undergo to create a cone of fluffy cotton candy goodness right before your very eyes.
This is where I changed my tune. Cotton candy is magic. It really is. It’s hypnotizing and mesmerizing. And I dare say, it makes time stand still.
There’s only one other place I know of where time stands still. That’s Spencer’s Gifts.
Anytime I go in there, it feels like 1987 all over again. It looks and smells just like it did in 1987. They even sell the same crap they did in 1987. Just instead of Bart Simpson’s face on t-shirts and shot glasses it’s zombies from The Walking Dead.
On a recent lunch visit to Belmont, my niece Sanders was given a choice after she ate her lunch. Did she want ice cream or cotton candy for dessert? I thought cotton candy was a no-brainer. I was wrong. She chose ice cream.
This shouldn’t surprise me. She has strong opinions when it comes to food. She’s not a picky eater by any means, but she likes what she likes. She likes chicken, but only if it’s on the bone. She likes a peanut butter and honey sandwich, but only if it’s freshly made. It can’t sit in a lunch box for hours before consumption.
And she LOVES donuts. But apparently not cotton candy.
When I pressed if she was sure she didn’t want cotton candy, she dug in her heels. She was not getting cotton candy, no matter how hard I tried to sway her.
But she did say she would still go inside the Cotton Candy Factory. I mean, you can’t visit Downtown Belmont these days and not at least walk into the Cotton Candy Factory.
But she wasn’t going to get any cotton candy. Did I mention that? That is, until she walked in and got sucked in. In moments, she was transformed and transfixed. Next thing you know, she had a cone in her hand and she was spinning and grinning.
You see, that’s when it dawned on me. The Cotton Candy Factory doesn’t produce cotton candy. It produces smiles. And for a brief moment, it stops time.
Professional surfer Skip Frye once remarked that Ponce de León sailed the ocean in search of the Fountain of Youth, when all he had to do was jump over the side of his ship.
Or find his way to the nearest Cotton Candy Factory. We’ll save a cone for you, Señor de León.