The Sweet History of Cotton Candy

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Boy eating Cotton Candy, Paris, circa 1940

For many of us the cotton candy is one of our those sweet memories from our childhood. A tasty wonder…

Children at cotton candy booth, possibly at Westview Park, Pennsylvania, 1945

Cotton candy is produced by a special spinning machine. The sugar is added to the head, where a heater melts it into syrup. At the same time, the spinning motion of the machine whips the syrup through tiny little holes that are perforated across the bowl. This motion cools the syrup instantaneously and fluffs it with air, creating long, extremely thin strands.

The cotton candy machine was invented by William James Morrison and John C. Warton in 1897. It`s hard to believe but one of the cotton candy machine inventors (Morrison) was a dentist. What an irony!

Though inventors obtainted the U.S. Patent on January 31, 1899, the machine was introduced to public at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. By the way, product’s name was not “Cotton Candy” but “Fairy Floss.”  Nowadays in the US it’s called cotton candy,  in Australia – fairy floss and in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Egypt, India and Sri Lanka – candy floss.

Colorized stereogram of 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair

Now-common foods that first became popular on St. Louis World’s Fair include the waffle ice cream cone, hamburgers, hot dogs, peanut butter, iced tea, cotton candy, Dr. Pepper, and Puffed Wheat.

The Pike was a wide mile-long span of the Fair that showcased all sorts of amusements and activities.

St. Louis World’s Fair worked over seven month period, from April 30 to December 1, 1904. It was attended by nearly 19.7 million people. Morrison and Wharton sold 68,655 boxes of candy cotton machine for a total of $17,163.75. In today’s money they got almost $410,000.

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