Sweet Tales from the Chocolate Storybook

Dec 26, 2019 – Brother Alex Joos may seem like your "typical" college student, but he is anything but. and

A sophomore studying accounting and finance at the University of Kansas, he dedicates his time to schoolwork and the Iota Chapter, as its vice president-scholarship and awards. But when he's not attending college over summer break, many wouldn't guess he spends his time making cotton candy for Mariah Carey! 

Mariah Carey Cotton Candy

It's not what you're thinking - Brother Joos doesn't work for Carey. He works for Chocolate Storybook, an award-winning candy store in Des Moines, Iowa owned by a family friend, Meg Shearer. As the shop's head of confectionary, Alex is in charge of all things cotton candy, ranging from coming up with delicious and inventive flavors like "alien fluff" and "frosted donut," to actually hand-crafting the fluffy treat that has caught the attention of the New York Mets, Universal Studios and Mariah Carey's Christmas Factory, a holiday-themed retail and candy line, which she curates herself.

So how does one become head of confectionary? According to Joos, "I originally had no background of making candy, or really any baking in general. On my first day of work, I started out on the production line. After experiencing a couple rounds of flavors, my manager at the time asked if I would be interested in trying out the 'bowl room,' where the candy production itself is actually done." As it turns out, cotton candy-making is an exact science. "Every flavor requires a different amount of volts in order to spin and create a perfect ring. It requires a lot of practice, but once you experience making a flavor, it's hard to forget its desired needs!" 

"The biggest thing I learned while working at the Chocolate Storybook is that anybody could have a good idea, they just need to be confident enough to share them," a philosophy the company embodies as it markets both classic flavors and ones that are wonderfully bizarre. Alex recalls building the confidence to express his ideas, “I had to create a sour flavor cotton candy. I love anything sour, and it’s always my go-to candy, but we didn’t have  a product that could fulfill that need. Eventually, this idea turned into our alien fluff candy,  which is very popular with our younger crowd.”

How does one know if a pizza flavored candy will sell? According to Joos, it’s all about the demand. “Brainstorming flavors primarily depends on orders and our capabilities. For example, a company came to us asking if we could make a pickle flavor. After doing some research, we ordered ingredients and gave it a try. I played a large role in the creation of the pickle flavor because it required a lot of trial and error. With pickle, it was almost impossible to perfect the color green, so it took a lot on my part of determining how much red sugar we needed.”

As it turns out, life is pretty sweet as a Deltasig for Alex, too. “I have absolutely loved my
time in the Fraternity so far,” he says. “I was lucky enough to find out about Deltasig at the beginning of my freshman year, so I was able to get involved right away, being elected pledge class president. I took a semester to see all positions in action, and I ended up running for vice president-scholarship and awards at the beginning of my sophomore year. That is where I am now, and I feel like it is a great job for me. I have been able to get to know a lot of brothers and new pledges by hosting brother spotlights, and my experience on the executive committee has been beyond rewarding with real-life leadership experience. I am really excited to see what else Deltasig continues to do for me!”

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