BLACKSBURG, Va. – “We’re literally on the boardwalk of Virginia Tech, as I like to call it.”
Mark Halsey wanted a project in retirement, which became ‘The Boardwalk’ in downtown Blacksburg. It’s adjacent to landmarks like the Blacksburg Farmers Market and Benny Marzano’s.
Its mission - “You don’t have to wait for the fair or carnival to come to town.”
It all spawned from family tradition, says Halsey.
“We’d go do the beach every year, and my wife would make funnel cakes.”
Funnel cakes now line the Boardwalk of Fame when you walk inside the small shop. It’s a shop that has recently become the center of attention on social media. After just weeks of being open, this project has turned into a booming success for Halsey and his crew.
“As time went on, we’d hear people banging on the doors, so we’ve changed the hours about six or seven different times. And then it just kind of branched out from there. Fried Twinkies bars, fried Snickers, fried Oreos.”
He sold 500 orders of fried Oreos in just ten days. We sampled them (for research purposes, of course), especially when offered some chocolate whipped cream to dip them in.
Halsey knows his audience too. Being right across from Tech’s campus means you have to get creative with naming your products - like ‘The Sandman.’
“Thrown in a big vat of sugar and cinnamon on both sides. It’s almost like a big, round churro.”
The Sweet Velvet Dream is made up of a red velvet funnel cake, ice cream, whipped cream and powdered sugar.
Last but not least, they’ve got a college football favorite.
“The pylons, because you’ve got the Twinkie cut in half, ice cream, whipped cream.”
The shock value is worth the price of admission for The Boardwalk - a place that is likely to be swamped once thousands of Virginia Tech students make their way back to campus later in the summer.
“It’s just been a lot of fun to see the look on people’s faces when you give them such a pretty neat-looking dessert.”
Halsey says with students coming back, they’ll add some savory items like Late Night Nachos and Jumbo Pretzels.