Have you ever been to a carnival or fair where they had cotton candy in a variety of different colors. I specifically remember pink (the most commom), light blue and yellow.
I was fascinated watching the cotton candy machine operator circulating a white paper cone inside a large drum like contraption and this web-like mass started to get larger and larger on the end of the cone. What was this stuff, I thought.
Well, I eventually found out, when we (me and my sisters) got our very own cotton candy machine. I don’t know how we happened to get this. It must have been a Christmas or birthday present, I say that because it just doesn’t seem like one of those, ‘Just because you’re good kids’ type gifts.
I remember it was my dad who helped us operate this thing. There was a metal dish-like thing with a bunch of holes around the perimeter and you put granulated sugar in this dish and heat it up on the stove until the sugar melted. Then you quickly place this metal dish on the center spindle of the cotton candy machine, grab a white paper cone, turn on the machine and start circulating the cone inside the large drum to gather up the webs of sugar fibers.
Here’s how it works: The center spindle is attached to a motor and it spins the metal dish (I’m making up all these different part names, but hopefully you get the idea). The centrifugal force causes the molten sugar to be thrown out of the dish through the small holes and then the molten sugar quickly cools and creates strings of sugar. All you have to do then, is move the paper cone around the inside of the drum and pickup the mass of sugar strings and voila! Cotton candy!
I remember the cotton candy that we made was sometimes a yellowish-brown color because the sugar was overheated and started to caramelize (I know that’s the reason now, I didn’t know this back then). We didn’t use food coloring, so the cotton candy we made was white and not pink.
Cotton candy was not always called cotton candy. Back in 1904, it was introduced at the World’s Fair as Fairy Floss. Fairy Floss was renamed to Cotton Candy in the 1920′s.
Machine-spun cotton candy was invented in 1897 by of all people, a dentist by the name of William Morrison. Wouldn’t you know it, that a dentist would be behind peddling an all sugar treat to future patients.
For more information on the Cotton Candy machine, visit wikipedia.com: