Cotton candy, also known as candy floss, or in some parts of the world as fairy floss, is a spun sugar confection that is known and loved worldwide. If you’ve ever been to a fair or a local outdoor festival, you’ve probably had some warm, fresh cotton candy. There is nothing quite like it.
Like most foods we enjoy, we often don’t know a lot about the origin of the tasty treat we are eating. Let’s go into some of the history and facts you may not know about cotton candy, so that the next time you are at a festival with a friend or date, you can impress them with your fairy floss knowledge while you share a fresh bag of cotton candy.
How is cotton candy made?
Cotton candy has only one ingredient: sugar. It is made by heating up and then liquefying sugar by spinning it rapidly in a centrifuge that has tiny holes, by which the sugar cools rapidly and then re-solidifies into fine strands of cotton-like sugar candy. It is then placed in a plastic bag or in a paper cone and sold to happy customers at fairs, circuses, carnivals and festivals the world-over.
Who invented cotton candy?
In 1897, an unlikely duo of a Nashville dentist named William Morrison and confectioner John C. Wharton teamed up to design and patent what they went on to call an electric candy machine. This machine was essentially a metal bowl that contained a central spinning head which was filled with sugar crystals and had tiny perforated holes in it. This creation worked a lot like cotton candy machines we have today. The treat was initially sold in small, wooden boxes.
When was cotton candy first introduced?
The first time cotton candy was sold was at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States. It was introduced as “fairy floss.” Morrison and Wharton sold over 68,000 boxes at 25 cents apiece, which was half of what fair-goers paid for admission into the fair! It was highly successful even though it was quite expensive for the time.
Is cotton candy an internationally known treat?
Although it was technically invented in The United States, cotton candy is a world-wide favorite. In the UK as well as India, it is called “candy floss.” Australians and the Finnish call it “fairy floss” and in France, they call it “papa’s beard.” Italians call cotton candy “zucchero filato” which translates to “sugar thread.” The most interesting name of them all has to go to Greece, which calls it “old ladies’ hair.”
Here are some fun facts about the sugary treat that you may not know:
- Threads of cotton candy are thinner than a human hair.
- You can create many different flavors of cotton candy, just add flavor to the sugar and spin away!
- Cotton candy is fat free and gluten free and healthier than most desserts.
- Since the early 1600s, chefs have been using spun sugar in their dishes to decorate and add a touch of class.
- Tootsie Roll Industries is the world’s largest cotton candy manufacturer.
- In China, street vendors create and sell cotton candy artwork using only the sugary treat as their canvas.
- Taiwan has developed vending machines that do single servings of cotton candy.
- The first automated cotton candy machine was made in 1978.
- A typical serving of cotton candy is 110 calories.
Next time you are at a festival, grab a bag of cotton candy and enjoy it while thinking of all these awesome facts you just learned!
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