The Spin On Cotton Candy

by Laurnie Wilson

Fluffy and Fine

Cotton CandyWhat’s light and fluffy and sweet all over? Cotton candy, of course! You’ve probably eaten this sugary treat since you were a kid, and maybe you even share it with your kids now! But do you know the sweet history of this American classic? Read on to find out!

Believe it or not, cotton candy, our carnival food of choice, is not as American as you may think. In fact, it was first made in Europe in the 1700’s! We’ve unwrapped plenty of candies before, but this sweet may be one of the oldest!

Back then, cotton candy was made by melting sugar in a pan over a fire and then separating the sugar strands with a fork. Needless to say, it was probably a little different than the cotton candy we eat today. But it must have been just as delicious! Despite the time-consuming preparation, this candy withstood the test of time.

Sweet Innovation

Retro Cotton CandyLuckily, in 1897, a dentist by the name of William Morrison invented a machine to spin the cotton candy. Cotton candy lovers everywhere could finally say sayonara to the days of hand-made cotton candy. The candy, called “Fairy Floss” had its big debut at the 1904 World’s Fair.  And boy was it a hit!

Morrison and his business partner John C. Wharton actually made a huge profit, selling the Fairy Floss at the equivalent of $6 per box today!  Now that’s a pretty successful business venture if I do say so myself.

Then in 1921 another dentist by the name of Joseph Lascaux made a machine similar to Morrison’s, patented the name “cotton candy” and the rest is history.  While we’re not quite sure why so many dentists were involved in creating one of the sugariest candies to date, we suspect they may have seen in increase in customers after cotton candy took off.

What’s With the Fluff?

Spinning Cotton CandyAnd the secret behind all the fluff? As it turns out, the machines fling the sugar with such force that the molecules do not have time to reorganize as crystals. Thus, you have a light, fluffy cotton candy, perfect for state fairs and amusement parks.

So, since it’s summertime, go out and get yourself one of America’s favorite summertime sweets! Now you can say you really do know all about it.

Sources:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotton_candy
  • http://www.hudsonvalley.org/community/blogs/cotton-candy-toothy-history-classic-circus-treat
  • http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/cotton-candy2.htm