The Minnesota Marshmallow Lady
S’Mores and More!
One of the traditions of summer and early fall is sitting around a campfire or fire pit with dear friends, toasting marshmallows and then squishing them between two graham crackers, with a big piece of Hershey’s candy bar thrown in for good measure.
Entrepreneur Amy McMillan loves that tradition too, but she has taken it in a new direction. In the summer of 2020, she was chatting with friends around a campfire about how there should be more than just plain, white marshmallows, and that someone should “invent” varieties of marshmallows with different flavors.
She started thinking outside the box to come up with what she called “the Juicy Lucy” of marshmallows, “stuffed” with a variety of delicious flavors. The idea behind The Minnesota Marshmallow was born, and McMillan’s business has taken off since then.
Growing up in the Twin Cities, Amy had a whole different career plan in mind after high school. In 2009, following in the footsteps of her father who was a Marine, Amy joined the Air Force.
After her basic training in Texas, Amy had active duty in South Dakota, Colorado and California. During that time, she also earned two associate's degrees and a bachelor’s degree.
Moving to Duluth in 2017, she took a job with the 148th Fighter Wing, where she worked in finances, human resources and recruiting. She relates, “I absolutely fell in love in Duluth, decided to stay and bought a house.”
After much experimentation with her marshmallow recipe and flavors, she started to bring some to share at the 148th. The overwhelming reaction to her gourmet marshmallows there inspired her to try to make this business a go.
She first sold them for a Labor Day sale she did in August of 2020. She quickly sold out and decided that she should explore how she could turn this into a full-time business.
She credits the Entrepreneur Fund for all their help, and to mentors Andy Packingham and Amanda Cunningham at Mike and Jen’s Cocoa, and Annie Sitek, the Cupcake Lady.
Working out of her home kitchen at first, Amy found she needed more space and began working out of the commercial kitchen at Johnson’s Bakery in Duluth.
She recently moved to the commercial kitchen at Proctor Speedway. “I love that we are able to work there Monday through Saturday every week and not have to take down everything the way we did before,” she said.
She has also added an employee to help with packaging and labeling, and eventually with marshmallow making. She also hopes to add a few other employees in the next several months.
Starting with the first small batches she ever made of orange cream, hot fudge and peanut butter, Amy says now the sky is the limit with ideas for flavors for her handmade delights.
Some of people’s favorites have been Mint Cookie, Uffda, made with sea salt caramel, toasted coconut and hot fudge, Salted Nut Roll, Moose Tracks, You Betcha Brownie, Rum Chata, Peppermint Bon Bon, Donut Madness, Arctic Mint Brownie, Salted Caramel Brownie, Butter Beer and Birthday Cake.
For those wanting even more of a marshmallow adventure, she came up with the Fat Elvis, peanut butter and banana, and what she calls “boozy” flavors, made with scotch, bourbon, and Bailey’s.
Her seasonal treats have included Easter flavored Limoncello and Jelly Beans; Red Velvet for Valentine’s Day; and Pumpkin Spice, Apple Caramel, and Honey Bourbon Pecan Marshmallows for sweet potato casserole topping for the holidays.
Amy says that in addition to s’mores, the gourmet marshmallows can also be used in baked treats, in cocoa, and just on their own as a sweet treat.
The Minnesota Marshmallows are available at several retail outlets including Johnson's Bakery, Piedmont Milk House, Bridgeman's, Vintage Hideaway Marketplace, Bailey's Builds, Louise's Place Cafe & Pantry Provisions in Two Harbors, Cedar Barn in Superior, 506 Salon, North & Shore, and The Hull.
Amy plans to add more retail locations, as well as offer marshmallows for sale on her website. “I have opened online sales and shipping through our Facebook page,” she explained. “We should also have our website up and running soon” at MNMallow.com
Another way to sell the product has been with her Marshmallow truck that she has taken to a variety of events, including the Apple Festival in Bayfield, the Duluth Junk Hunt, and this summer to the Stone Arch Bridge Festival in Minneapolis.
McMillan was nominated for the Noteworthy Start-up Award. A nomination statement on her behalf read, "Amy McMillan took an idea and acted on it. Her marshmallows are amazing, and she has grown incredibly fast from introducing her product in 2020 to a business that has allowed her to go full-time and to work on scaling up to meet demand. It's a fun product that has captured people's attention and left us wanting more of her wonderfully unique marshmallows!”