Biting into a fluffy, white marshmallow, Mitchell Greenberg became wonderstruck.
“Gee, I wonder how you make marshmallows,” he thought, examining the squishy mass resting in his fingers.
The sweetness beckoned. Curious, Greenberg bolted to a store, gathering the necessary ingredients: sugar, light corn syrup and gelatin. With Google-found recipes as his guide, the candy novice mixed his first batch.
Over the next few months, Greenberg experimented with flavors. First vanilla, then chocolate, then toasted coconut. As his recipe repertoire grew, he shared the treats with friends and family, who gobbled them up and craved more.
At that moment, they were no longer marshmallows. They were Mitchmallows.
Greenberg, a circus clown turned television set designer turned confectionery connoisseur, crafts creatively flavored, handmade marshmallows from his Long Island City kitchen.
Born in Brooklyn’s Borough Park, Greenberg grew up in suburban Rockland County. Returning to the city years later, he enrolled in New York University’s design program before deferring after several years to attend Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey clown college. Along with 32 other circus hopefuls, Greenberg studied acrobatics, physical comedy and juggling. In 1971, he graduated from clown college, returning to finish his design degree at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
After graduating, Greenberg designed sets for television shows, creating scenescapes for the “Miss America Pageant,” “The Daily Show,” “Washington Week in Review” and the “Kids’ Choice Awards.”
Clowning granted Greenberg the level of silliness needed to make marshmallows. His design background provided a creative eye towards graphics, logos and a brand look, applying a unique sensibility to create something never seen before.
Vanilla, chocolate and toasted coconut became ginger wasabi and pretzels and beer.
The magic, he says, is seeing what kinds of flavors you can create.
Currently, Greenberg is experimenting with a mimosa flavor – part champagne, part orange juice.
During Thanksgiving, he developed a gravy marshmallow that turned out tasty. For Passover, he crafted a Manischewitz wine flavored treat, called Mallowschewitz, and a horseradish marshmallow, bursting with a unique spiciness.
The chicken soup marshmallow, however, did not work out so well.
After tinkering with formulas for a year, fashioning the ideal marshmallow and perfecting the vibe of the company, Greenberg launched into the public in January 2011 under the moniker Mitchmallows.
“It’s kind of the time for a new era of marshmallow,” said Greenberg. “We’ve been cookied and cupcaked for awhile now and we’re ready for something new. I think marshmallows are the perfect thing to take that place.”
Greenberg concocts his treats in his studio at the Entrepreneur Space, a kitchen-filled colony and home to 200 culinary companies, without which Greenberg says Mitchmallows would cease to exist. From his online store, Greenberg ships his marshmallows to fans all over the country, custom creating candies for college graduations and sweet sixteen shindigs.
Mitchmallows now boasts 36 flavors.
He feels the business has reached the point where his product is ready to be sold wholesale to candy stores and retailers.
Greenberg dreams of owning his own food truck – the perfect vehicle that lends itself to the silliness of marshmallows. On cold winter days, he would serve cups of piping hot cocoa, garnished with a peppermint or chili-chocolate marshmallow. In the summer, patrons could grab gooey s’mores, reminiscent of campfire days.
Candy is memories, Greenberg says, hopeful that soon, Mitchmallows will also be synonymous.