Cotton candy ice cream burrito videos go viral

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Martin Lacombe’s notion to create a cotton candy ice cream burrito has turned into an internet sensation drawing customers from all over to his family’s Sarnia ice cream shop.

“Today, somebody just drove eight hours from Iowa to have one,” Lacombe, who owns Sugar, Sugar on London Road with his wife Malynda, said Wednesday.

“The number of people making side trips on their vacation, like driving two hours out of their way, is dumbfounding.”

Lacombe, who also owns the Tugboat Vaping shop downtown, opened Sugar, Sugar in March and was initially selling a handful of cotton candy ice cream burritos a day, but now the shop averages 70.

“On a Saturday I can go 150,” he said.

It began when he told the online site, Food Beast, about his dessert invention and it ask him to send along some video. Food Beast posted it in June and his week the video was closing in on 25 million views.

The story was picked up online by Teen Vogue, Cosmo and others, and a new video posted Tuesday by the site Insider was at 2,250,000 views and climbing after two days.

“It gets to a level and you just can’t comprehend how big it has gotten,” Lacombe said.

Reaction to the initial video posting was startling, he said.

“The next morning, there were people lined up at 11 a.m. to have one. It was insane.”

It all began months ago because the shop had a cotton candy machine and, Lacombe explained, “I was literally just messing around.”

He likes to eat cotton candy patted down instead of fluffy, which got him wondering if it would hold ice cream that way.

So, Lacombe gave it a try and it did.

“I said to myself, “It’s kind of looks like a tortilla shell. I wonder if I could roll this thing into a burrito?’”

He sprinkled a little candy topping known as Unicorn Dust on the ice cream, wrapped it up in the cotton candy and it worked.

“I couldn’t believe it, it went so well together,” Lacombe said.

It looked good, and the cotton candy held together even with three scoops of ice cream inside.

“Some things look good on Facebook, but they’re not actually practical,” he said.

“But, this thing actually tastes better than it looks.”

This week, Lacombe upgraded to a new cotton candy machine that came from the supplier with samples of flavours, beyond the two or three colours the shop had been offering.

“You can now order your burrito in pina colada cotton candy, sour apple, watermelon, orange . . . he just gave me a whole bunch.”

The burritos cost $5.50 each, and customers choose what flavours of ice cream they want inside.

“Half the fun is coming in here and watching us make it,” Lacombe said.

Providing that type of unique experience is all part of building customer loyalty, he said.

“It’s all great that people drive from Iowa for eight hours to have it, it’s a huge honour, but it’s the people of Sarnia you want to make sure keep coming back in.”

Up next, Lacombe is planning to bring in a deep fryer in September to make funnel cakes, something his daughter has named “moose tongues,” along with deep-fried Mars bars, deep-fried ice cream and Lacombe only knows what else.

“We’ve going to play with the deep fryer like no tomorrow,” he said.

“If it’s got sugar in it, I’m going to deep fry it.”

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