The origins of cotton candy can be traced back centuries, all the way to Renaissance Italy. Back then, chefs melted and spun sugar manually. The process included them pulling the candy into thin strands using forks and draping it over broom handles, then spinning the broom. These hand-spun candies were not only hard work, but also expensive.
However, our version of cotton candy wasn’t born until the 19th century. Cotton candy was made by none other than a dentist named Dr. William Morrison. In 1897, Dr. Morrison teamed up with a candy maker named John C. Wharton. Together, they invented a machine that heated sugar in a spinning bowl, which had several tiny holes in it. The sugar in the hot, spinning bowl caramelized and made its way through the holes turning the melted sugar into light strands. They called this sugary treat “Fairy Floss.” In 1904, the two inventors even introduced their machine and fun snack at the St. Louis World’s Fair. They sold 68,000 boxes over 6 months for 25¢ each ($6.75 in today’s money). The treat was so popular, a candy store purchased the electric machine and started selling the fairy floss just a year later. In 1949, Gold Medal Products created the first factory-made cotton candy machine. This made cotton candy what it is today!
But not everyone calls it “cotton candy.” In France, cotton candy is “Papa’s Beard.” In the Netherlands, it’s called “Sugar Spider.” Finally, in Greece cotton candy is called “Old Ladies’ Hair.” Cotton candy has many different flavors, some examples being chocolate, vanilla, maple syrup, jalapeno, pickle, champagne, and dreamsicle. In 2009, a vending machine was made to serve cotton candy. Street vendors sell cotton candy artwork. They create edible masterpieces that resemble flowers and animals, using nothing but cotton candy.
- A thread of cotton candy is thinner than a human hair.
- A typical bag of cotton candy contains less sugar and calories than a can of soda.
- The longest cotton candy was 1,400m long, about the length of 13 football fields.