How Did Cotton Candy Get Started?
The Story Behind Cotton Candy
Cotton candy is one of the most popular sweet treats at carnivals, sporting events, and state fairs around the country. But how exactly did cotton candy come about? And who invented this delicious treat? How is it made? We answer the questions about this snack you have been wondering since you were a child.
How to Make Cotton Candy
Before we get into history, let’s answer the question you are all wondering: how do you make cotton candy? Cotton candy is only made from two ingredients: air and colored sugar. The process to make it is simple. First, you add flavored sugar to the center of the cotton candy machine. Then the center, which spins, begins to heat up to 300 degrees and melts the sugar. When the center begins to spin, the melted sugar is pushed through a screen that breaks the pieces up into the flossy threads we recognize today as cotton candy.
Want to make your own? Check out our Cotton Candy Supplies Starter Package to get started.
History of Cotton Candy
The origins of cotton candy trace 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. These hand-spun candies were not only labor-intensive but also expensive. However, the cotton candy we know and love today didn’t make its debut till the 19th century. Who introduced this sugary treat? Believe it or not, a dentist named Dr. William Morrison created cotton candy. In 1897, Dr. Morrison teamed up with candy maker, John C. Wharton, and 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 introduced their machine and fun snack at the St. Louis World’s Fair and 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 helped cotton candy production become what it is today!
Cotton Candy Around the World
Today, cotton candy is known and beloved around the world. In fact, the sugary snack has different names around the world.
- England: “Candy Floss”
- China: “Dragon’s Beard”
- France: “Papa’s Beard”
- Netherlands: “Sugar Spider”
- Greece: “Old Ladies’ Hair”
Other Fun Facts
- A thread of cotton candy is thinner than a human hair
- The longest cotton candy was 1,400m long. This is about the length of 13 football fields!
- A typical bag of cotton candy contains less sugar and calories than a can of soda
National Cotton Candy Day is December 7! What better way to celebrate than by eating some cotton candy? Check out our Fun Food Recipes pages for cotton candy recipes you’ll want to try!