Cotton candy is a
confection made of spun sugar, served in great wispy
clouds wrapped around a paper holder. The warm, sticky mass
in your mouth and usually makes a mess of your face too.
History of Cotton Candy;
Heavenly Clouds of Spun Sugar
Americans remember reaching up to grab a huge, cottony swirl of heaven
from mom or dad at the circus or an amusement park. It brings
back memories of hot summer days, crunchy sweet candy you can only eat
with your hands and of course, pink sticky faces and clothes.
Cotton candy is also known by such enchanting names as spun
or fairy floss. As early as the 1400's,
chefs were spinning
extravagant desserts out of sugar. Though, the little hands
reaching out for this confection likely wore gold rings and mom and dad
warned the children about getting their robes or crowns
The sugar strands in these magical
desserts were thicker and more like
glass than today's cottony
spun sugar. The candy could be formed into golden webs, eggs,
bird's nests, castles and other fanciful creations.
Up until the late 1800's, spinning sugar was a very labor intensive,
difficult and somewhat dangerous undertaking. Loaf sugar,
cane or beets was used, as granulated sugar wasn't invented until after
World War One.
Sugar, water and other secret ingredients were
boiled in large pots until reaching the correct temperature and
consistency. When the molten concoction was ready, the
confectioner had a few moments to pull it out of the bowl with a fork
or whisk and then fling the hot mixture through the air. The
strands would quickly cool and solidify in the air.
The cook had
to be careful of burns and early recipes warn to use plenty of oil on
the skin to keep the blistering hot liquid from sticking.
were advised to use only the best cane sugar 'lest failure should
occur' and to use copper bowls for best results.
Today's modern cotton candy machines work using the
a spinner sends the sugar floating onto a current of air and the sweet,
cottony threads are collected inside a bowl. Sugar and
is heated in a small, spinning container which sits in the middle of a
large metal drum. The spinner has tiny holes which send the
liquid sugar flying out in strands. Once the strands come in
contact with the air, they become solid and forms threads on the sides
of the bowl.
Sugar has improved since colonial times too. Special
now formulated to create longer strands, giving the candy a fluffier
texture. The warm candy is usually swirled onto a cardboard
or stick. In the 1970's new machines were invented to produce
cotton candy on a large scale. These machines produce a long
continuous mass of cotton candy which is then cut into
rectangles. It can now be found in stores packed in plastic
Several American inventors are credited
up the first
modern cotton candy machines around the turn of the last
The first patent was given to John C. Wharton and William Morris for
their cotton candy machine in 1899, or 1897 depending on your
sources. The two partners debuted their new 'fairy floss' at
St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 where it became a success.
American, Thomas Patton patented a slightly different cotton candy
machine a year later and teamed up with the Ringling Bros. Circus where
the sticky confection is still served today.
In 'the trade' cotton candy is simply known as 'floss'.
operators will tell you there is an art to collecting and forming the
warm product just right.
The most popular color for cotton candy
is pink, followed by blue. Other colors like yellow, purple
green are also sometimes seen. Almost all cotton candy has
coloring added. Without color, it would be white or light
tan. Purists like to eat their cotton candy plain, but it can
also be flavored. Popular flavors include bubble gum and ice
Adventurous cooks, indulgent parents and cotton candy addicts can now
make their own fluffy, spun dessert creations at home. Small
resemble toys more than a cooking tool) can be found for under
$100. Bigger, more reliable cotton candy machines can cost up
although you'll still need to add your own circus.
has a day dedicated to this sweet, ethereal creation, so don't forget
to celebrate National Cotton Candy Day on December 7.
on Mugs, Aprons, Tees
Retro art of a red strawberry pattern with white flowers and green
leaves on canning labels and cards
Dinner is Served Custom Cooking Designs
Silverware on a pretty embellished table napkin says dinner is served!
On custom party invitations, aprons and more