Sweet Nostalgia: Gilbert marshmallow shop, Toasted Mallow, is America’s first | Phoenix.org
Sweet Nostalgia: Gilbert marshmallow shop, Toasted Mallow, is America’s first

Sweet Nostalgia: Gilbert marshmallow shop, Toasted Mallow, is America’s first

By David M. Brown

Here’s a suite for sweets in North Gilbert.

Celebrating six years in August, Toasted Mallow: Gourmet S’mores & Marshmallows has found hundreds of ways to inspire smiles.

At America’s first Marshmallow Café and S’mores Bar, guests will see custom marshmallows, s’mores, milkshakes, hot chocolate, Costa Rican cold-brewed coffee, specialty lemonade, mallow pies, sugar cookies and lots more.

Owned by Gilbert residents Tricia and Hazel Earce, the shop is in the Encinas Plaza at 1034 N. Gilbert Road, just south of Houston Avenue.

Nine employees assist the owners in baking, designing and tending to party sales and customers online and in person.

“If you can think of a dessert, we’re going to put a marshmallow underneath it or on top of it,” Tricia says.

Here customers plan children’s theme parties around unicorns, rabbits, superheroes or other characters.

“We were originally called Fluff It Marshmallows, but people would tell us they thought we were a dog groomer or a laundromat and didn’t stop by, so we changed the name to Toasted Mallow,” Tricia explains. “That branding has really changed our walk-in traffic.”

A few friends recently helped with the interior color woodwork and signage, such as one depicting a smiling marshmallow that urges, “Dance in the rain; eat a cupcake; and smell the roses.”

Only here, one intoxicating inhalation brings back customers’ first campfire; other childhood memories return in smells, colors and textures.

That’s the way the owners planned it.

Nostalgia drives Toasted Mallow’s success as well as the quality of and creativity behind the products. “You roast a marshmallow, and you remember your childhood,” she says.

“Whatever makes your heart content, whatever works the nostalgia for you, however you want us to make it, we will make it for you.”

The 30-plus varieties of marshmallows include red velvet and strawberry cheesecake, cherry bombs and chocolate chip cookie dough.

Offerings regularly change; and when a patron requests custom marshmallows, it’s a snap.

“I love to do those,” Tricia says.

Many variations on the basic marshmallow are available and the store is always creating new ones.

There are marshmallow pops are on a stick, à la lollipop. Other goodies contain nonalcoholic cherry cordials or ganache. And, cones, of the marshmallow kind, are dipped in chocolate.

S’mores are another menu item, adding a crispy graham cracker bowl and toppings to the marshmallow.

“We started s’mores one summer because it was so hot outside, and we knew people would come indoors and we could make a s’more for them,” Tricia explains.

Varieties include birthday cake with sprinkles, Brownie Bomb, cherry pie filling, cookies and cream, Oreo bits, Butterfinger with the candy bar crumbs, a Fluffernutter, Snickers, Fruity Pebbles, a Nutty Professor, peanut butter cup or ice cream s’more with Blue Bell ice cream.

The marshmallows are made fresh at the store, using ingredients such as fresh egg whites for the meringue-like fluffiness, coconut, pineapple juice, peanut butter and simple syrup.

Gluten-free marshmallows are on the menu, and they can also be ordered without egg whites and artificial colors.

“We don’t use corn syrup because of children’s allergies, and the simple syrup works just fine,” she says.

Families are regular visitors.

“I love when they bring in the grandkids,” Tricia says.

Most of the business is afternoons and after work. “People don’t want marshmallows at 8 in the morning,” she says, noting that the shop opens Tuesday to Saturday at noon and stays open until 9 p.m.—except Sundays at 5 p.m.—to accommodate the demand peak.

After church on Sundays is popular.

And customers flock to the shop on Valentine’s Day and Easter. The holiday leader, though, is Christmas, for items such as table treats and stocking stuffers.

You can find some of the store’s products in other East Valley stores, such as Sweet Daddy Cupcakes in Chandler, Canyon Market in the Hyatt Regency in Scottsdale, Soda Rush in Gilbert and Pura Vida Grinds in Mesa.

During the cooler months through April, the store participates in a variety of farmers markets Valleywide.

Tricia took to marshmallows in a roundabout fashion.

She helped open Bass Pro Shop in Mesa Riverview. Here, she regularly took part in the store baking contest among employees, with changing secret ingredients. The turning point for her was marshmallow month.

“I was tending for my grandmother in Glendale, helping her with the doctors’ appointments and groceries; and when I lost her, I lost myself,” Tricia recalls.

When the marshmallow became the secret ingredient, she started looking at recipes just out of curiosity.

“I wasn’t grieving anymore,” she recalls. “I consider it a gift from my grandmother, to move on with my life.”

Born in Deming, New Mexico, Tricia lived in Albuquerque, where she graduated from high school. A Valley resident for the last 22 years, she earned a business degree from the University of Phoenix. She’s been living in Gilbert for six years.

Her cooking interest?

She has a “tia,” or aunt, in New Mexico who owns a restaurant called Balboa.

“I grew up around that restaurant,” she says, noting that her aunt is 88 and still actively manages the restaurant.

Hazel’s family is from Costa Rica. She grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and has a degree in art design.

“She manages the web work and graphics and I oversee the baking, so we’re a good team,” Tricia explains.

Toasted Mallow: Gourmet S’mores & Marshmallows, 1034 N. Gilbert Road, Suite 3, Gilbert, 480.686.9071, thetoastedmallow.com.