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How Did Cotton Candy Get Started?

Cotton Candy Machine on top of a vintage Gold Medal Cotton Candy Ad

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


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


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!


Modern Cotton Candy Machines

Cotton candy equipment has come a long way since 1897. Today, a variety of efficient, user-friendly cotton candy machines are available for commercial and personal use.

Some even come with high-tech features like heat control that automatically adjusts voltage for perfect results or LED lights for a fun, eye-catching experience.

Modern cotton candy machines like The Breeze® can make up to 2-3 servings per minute, while others like the Stainless Steel Tornado® can produce 6-7 servings per minute. These advanced, heavy-duty machines allow places like stadiums, fairs, and amusement parks to keep up with the high demand for this delicious treat.

However, you don't have to be a professional to make cotton candy. Easy-to-use cotton candy machines like the Auto Breeze® offer a single switch control for straightforward operation and Lock-N-Go handles for easy transport. These machines make it possible to offer fresh, tasty cotton candy at places like school concession stands and farmers markets.


Cotton Candy Around the World


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!


For more info on your favorite fun foods, check out:

- How to Make Cotton Candy | How-To Video

- Get inspired with Fun Food Recipes for cotton candy recipes you’ll want to try!

- Shop Now! Prepackaged Candee Fluff Cotton Candy (Case Count: 12)