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Here comes Cottontail Candy

The Green Bay-based business began operations earlier this summer

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August 23, 2023

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN – “Everybody loves cotton candy.”

Current Bay Port High School Teacher Rhonda Richlen said those four words gave her and her son Braedon, co-owners of the business, the motivation to start Cottontail Candy LLC earlier this summer.

“My husband (Wil-Michael) and I were always looking for some sort of business endeavor,” she said. “After I researched cotton candy, I found the profit margin to be good – it’s also a unique business to this area. Because I’m a teacher, I also feel I have a good rapport with kids, so it’s a natural fit with the business.”

Rhonda said Cottontail Candy officially became an LLC in April, but didn’t start selling the popular treat at events until June.

“I don’t teach summer school anymore,” she said. “My husband still works full-time, too, but he and my other kids also help when needed.”

Braedon, an Ashwaubenon High School and St. Norbert College graduate in communication and media studies, said he specializes in social media and website work.

“The first time the idea came up, I was working on another website on the computer, and my mom came to me and asked, ‘What do you think about cotton candy?’” he said. “I thought it was a good idea – I’m able to work on all the technology stuff and grow my skills.”

Braedon said he also works at AmeriCorps as an intern.

The name Cottontail Candy, Rhonda said, was inspired by her love of rabbits.

“I’ve always owned rabbits – so, cottontails, fluffy, cotton candy,” she laughed.

How it works
Rhonda, who previously taught at Ashwaubenon for 17 years and ran Richlen Photography, said the process of working an event is “rather simple and straightforward.”

“For example, if we head to the Green Bay Botanical Garden, we take our canvas pop-up tent, our cotton candy machines, our Gold Medal Flossugar and three tables,” she said. “We’ll bring a variety of flavors, depending on the event. Birthday cake is popular with the kids, and banana is also a good seller – that one has surprised me.”

Cottontail Candy, which began operations earlier this summer, is popular among area kids. Submitted Photo

The full list of flavors can be found at

“With the various seasons, we can change the flavors, too,” Braedon said. “Maybe pumpkin spice will come out in the fall.”  

Other flavors include grape, blue raspberry, watermelon, bubblegum, green apple and white citrus, among others.

Rhonda said she tells kids “making cotton candy is like magic.”

“Ironically, our first event was a magic show at the Botanical Garden,” she laughed.

The cotton candy creation process, Rhonda said, is also pretty straightforward.

“You pour the Flossugar into the machine, and it heats up – then it turns into cotton candy we sell on cones,” she said. “It’s cotton candy as big as your head. We can do about 50 cones an hour with our machine. We wanted to try out (the smaller machine) first before deciding if we want the ‘big kahuna,’ commercial one.”

Rhonda said two of her other children have severe peanut allergies – making cotton candy a “perfect treat for them.”

“It’s always been difficult to find a treat for them – the cookie aisle has on the fine print of each package: ‘This item is made in a facility that also produces peanuts,’” she said. “Our product is gluten-free, trans-fat free, peanut-free and Kosher. We try to accommodate as many people as we can. It doesn’t matter how old you are – you can still enjoy cotton candy. Our cotton candy is made on the spot, and it’s fresh, warm and tasty.”

How it’s going
So far, Rhonda said, “she’s happy and pleasantly surprised” at how things are going with the business.

“We recently did the Farmer’s Market on Military, and we had people who came specifically for our cotton candy because they saw us on Facebook,” she said. “We’ve done three events at the Botanical Garden and will be doing its Fall Family Festival Oct. 1. We’ve done Waupaca Arts on the Square, sold at Fleet Farm’s Touch a Truck event and Hy-Vee for its sidewalk sales event.”

Braedon said Cottontail will also be part of St. Norbert Day – a large family-friendly event held at St. Norbert College in De Pere set for Sept. 16. 

“We’ll have all hands on deck for that one,” he said. “We’re excited about that because it’s my alma mater and we know it’ll be a huge event – hopefully, the weather is nice.”

Rhonda Richlen said her love of rabbits helped inspire Cottontail Candy’s name. Submitted Photo

Rhonda said she hopes to add more regular events next year – like wedding and business events and more private parties.

“Because we got into the game a bit late, we didn’t register in time for the Green Bay Farmers Markets this season,” she said. “We needed to sign up for that in May, but we weren’t quite sure about things yet. We had to pick and choose which events (we did) – cotton candy and heat don’t mix too well… shorter events are better for us, but we’re willing to try different things.”

Because Rhonda will be going back to teaching full-time soon, she and Braedon both said hours might need some tweaking.

“We’ll be doing evenings and weekends, but we’ll still be out there,” Braedon said.

Rhonda said she’s not quite sure of the future yet.

“We’ll just keep having fun with it,” she said. “I don’t plan on retiring as a teacher anytime soon, but maybe in the near future things will be good enough where we can purchase a food truck or something similar.”

Stay tuned, she said, and follow Cottontail Candy on Facebook or Instagram.

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