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The History of Fairy Floss

    Fairy Floss or Cotton Candy ?

  • 1938 fairy floss machine small
    The cotton candy invention was more than 100 years ago. The original cotton candy invention gets a bit lost though, what with four different people credited with the invention of cotton candy at the same time around the turn of the nineteenth century, however it was at that time that the modernisation of cotton candy came about.

  • In 1897 two candy makers from Nashville, Tennessee by the names of  William Morrison and John C. Wharton devised a machine that would change the way cotton candy was made.

    Cotton Candy unlike normal sugary confections, is purely sugar. Though cotton candy primarily sugar, it usually contains less sugar than a can of an average soft drink. What appears to be a large serving of cotton candy is really only a small amount of sugar -- the rest is air, which gives cotton candy it's special appearance.

    The cotton candy invention that Morrison and Wharton came up with in 1897 was an electric machine. The machine made the cotton candy by melting a sugar mixture and then using centrifugal force to push the melted substance through a screen. The screen would create the wispy threads that were collected onto a paper or cardboard cone.

    Though Morrison and Wharton are generally credited for the cotton candy invention, some sources say that another vendor by the name of Thomas Patton also had a cotton candy invention patented. Patton had been playing with the process of caramelization - that is, boiling it until it turns into a caramelized state (about 320 degrees Fahrenheit). His machine differed from the cotton candy machine of Morrison and Wharton -- his was gas-fired. The machine rotated a plate around to create the strands which were collected and served on a cone -- much like Morrison and Wharton

    Patton supposedly introduced his invention in 1900 at the Ringling Bros. Circus, but this isn't true. Ringling Brothers did not join up with Barnum and Bailey until several years later, in 1919. Which brings us back to Morrison and Wharton.

    Around this same time frame, a Louisiana dentist by the name of Josef Delarose Lascoux also introduced it at his dental office. Lascoux never received a patent on his invention however. Now you must be thinking "I knew it!" because surely a dentist must have been behind the invention of something so sugary and horrible for your teeth!

    The cotton candy makers of today are not too different from their ancestors of more than a century ago. A metal bowl sits on top of a centrifugally spun, electrically powered spinner head. Sugar is poured into a holding tray, heated up, and spun through tiny holes in the inside of the bowl, allowing the operator to collect the sugary threads into a serve-able shape. In the U.S.A it was originally call “Fairy Floss”, in 1920 it was renamed “Cotton Candy”. In Britain it was always called cotton candy and hear in good old Australia we have stuck to the original name of fairy floss. One thing has stayed consistent over the years, however; Cotton candy still has only one ingredient-SUGAR!

    Industrial vs. Residential Cotton Candy Makers

    For professional concession stand owners, it is important to purchase a cotton candy maker that is durable and able to produce candy continuously over a long period of time. Individuals or families who wish to provide birthday and party guests with a special treat, or by schools and churches for fundraising and holiday events can rent smaller makers. Some cotton candy machines can even be filled with more than two color/flavor combinations to offer more to customers and increase production.

    Over the years, very little has changed in the way of inventions. The only changes that have occurred are in the way of machines. A few changes have come about that involve the flavors, and even a few different colors. People have invented new flavors such as bubble gum, grape, strawberry, banana and blue raspberry, just to name a few.
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