The Hippo


Mar 18, 2018








Vivid Confections customizes marshmallows with photos and text. Courtesy photo.

‘Mallow messages
Local business personalizes marshmallows with photos

By Allie Ginwala

 As founder and owner of Creative Chef Kitchens, a commercial kitchen in Derry that gives chefs, bakers and chocolatiers a space to work, Neelima Gogumalla was more focused on the business side of the food industry and less on the creativity behind it — until a cake with photographs on it sparked an idea. 

“I thought to myself, ‘This is really neat. ... That’s such a great customization,” she said. “But the shelf life is very short.”
She didn’t have to go far to find inspiration for other, longer-lasting treats to put pictures on — at that time there was a business at Creative Chef Kitchens that made French macarons. That smooth surface could make for a nice base, she thought.
“And marshmallows just kind of popped into my head and I thought, ‘OK, now we have an idea,’” she said.
This April will mark the one-year anniversary of Vivid Confections, a messaging company that makes customized photo marshmallows, run by Gogumalla and fellow co-owners Renee Conner of Renee Conner Cake Design and Pam Campbell of X Marks the Spot Vegan Bakery.
“I [hated] marshmallows until I made one here, and I realized I didn’t know marshmallows could taste that good,” Gogumalla said. “These are soft and they’re rubbery and we put a little more than the recipes require as far as flavoring is concerned, and the flavor just pops.”
Vanilla is the standard for the photo marshmallows because it provides a blank canvas, though Vivid Confections does make 28 other flavors for party and event favors. Strawberry, blueberry, Oreo cookie, maple brown sugar, mojito and lemon are just a handful of options, Gogumalla said, and they’re working on some ethnic flavors like rosewater cardamom and Turkish coffee. Other future variations include coffee stenciling and chocolate-dipped marshmallows using KRM Chocolates, a chocolatier at Creative Chef Kitchens.
Vivid Confections makes traditional and vegan marshmallows, the latter of which took Campbell, a vegan baker, six months to develop. They sell them in two-pack and nine-pack picture options, plus as event favors. The sweet squares fit into custom-made boxes as if they were small tiles or a page in a picture album. 
Currently the two-inch by two-inch marshmallows have the picture put on them using edible ink on sugar paper. It’s a fairly painstaking process; each photo has to be cut, placed on the marshmallow and left to dry overnight before packing and shipping. At the end of the month, however, they’re getting a printer that prints directly onto the marshmallows, a big step up from the current process.
If the marshmallows prove successful, Vivid Confections might expand to use other tasty media, like macarons or iced sugar cookies. 
“Everyone wants to take a picture of everything that happens and they want it immortalized on something,” she said. 
As one of the owners of Vivid Confections, Gogumalla has had the chance to take on a different perspective than she typically has working with the other food businesses.
“I was trying very hard not to be married to this,” she said. “I think I’m getting used to it because that’s what I preach to them. This is great, it’s your idea, but you have to treat it as a business that one day you’re going to let go, like you do a child. So that’s a different perspective I’m developing.”
Though still in the evolution period of the business, Gogumalla thinks that since they worked out some of the kinks with printing and packing, they can go all out this year, starting with Valentine’s Day, and also look ahead to adding new media.
“There are a couple people in our kitchen that are starting up that we want to piggyback on,” she said. “That’s a great opportunity for us.”

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