The introduction of cotton candy to the western world was an event that changed the carnival, fairground, and circus scene permanently, forever embedding the sweet taste of cotton candy in the hearts and taste buds of candy lovers everywhere. The first introduction of cotton candy to the west is claimed by two entities, but its first appearance dates back to Iran many centuries ago. Also known as candy floss, cotton candy has evolved with the candy industry; with additional flavors having developed over the years. Today, changes in the manufacturing process have the candy poised to outsell even itself in the coming years.
While Tootsie Roll claims that it first introduced the world to cotton candy in 1893 at the World’s Fair, the most noted appearance was at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair. It was here in 1904 that William Morrison and John C. Wharton sold almost 70,000 boxes of their own brand of cotton candy, known as “Candy Floss”. It was instantly popular even though it was considered a high price item at the time, and the two entrepreneurs reaped the profits of the highly successful venture.
This description of the popular candy, “candy floss”, comes from its appearance and composition. Cotton candy is made in a large bowl with heaters around the sides that is filled with sugar and food coloring, it is then heated, and the sugar is spun out by a rotating device through small holes in the pan. Made from spun sugar and containing more air than anything else, the thin strands that make up the cotton candy are gathered together into the correct serving size and wrapped around a stick or cone that serves as a handle.
With time cotton candy evolved to suit a growing consumer market, and it soon became accessible at parks and carnivals all across the United States. Candy cotton soon became offered in many different flavors and colors, being both artificially and naturally flavored, and altered with acceptable food dyes. The flavors of cotton candy changed with the times and many novelty flavors now exist such as bubblegum, vanilla, and chocolate. Natural flavors remain as popular as ever however, and despite whether it is artificially flavored, the dyeing process can make the candy resemble the natural color that represents a particular flavor. By using Red Dye # 40, Blue Dye #1, Yellow Dye # 5, and Yellow Dye # 6, not only basic colors, but any color can be made by combining the correct amount of dye.
The factor that contributed more to the growth of the cotton candy market was the advent of automated machinery that could produce the candy at a much higher rate. It was in 1972 when the automated cotton candy making machine was patented, and this contributed greatly to the cotton candy makers ability to produce enough of their product to reach consumers across a large market. Modern machines use conveyors to carry the cotton candy through the various production steps such as heating, spinning, being gathered and cut, and then being packaged.
These advancements carry over to the packaging of the item, an important part of the process. Cotton candy dissolves when it makes contact with moisture, and the packaging is designed to retain the proper quality. Careful attention to shipping methods has made the candy available to many more consumers than before. It is because of these technological advancements in automated machinery that the cotton candy industry is predicted to grow even larger in the coming years. Already featured at every carnival and circus, the availability of cotton candy is now expanding into areas frequented by consumers, such as grocery and convenient stores.