Cotton Candy has quite an interesting history. In the 14th century, ancient chefs used to melt sugar, pour it over greased forms and as it hardened, it would have a webbed appearance. They would use this in itself as the actual confection or use it in a more elaborate dessert. This, however, is not where cotton candy gets it’s credited history from.
At least three men and possibly a fourth are given the credit for it. Also know as Fairy Floss, cotton candy was originated here in the United States in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. Because the stories are conflicting as to who, what, where and when so I will share both.
Thomas Patton was the first to obtain a patent for a cotton candy machine in 1900. His invention consisted of a spinning, gas fired plate and a fork. He would use to fork to create the strands of cotton. Mr. Patton introduced his cotton candy at The Ringling Brothers circus in 1900.
Two other men claim to have invented it first, William Morrison and John Wharton of Nashville, TN. Their version was very similar to the modern one we see today. They had a spinning drum with holes. Heating the sugar to a melted state, they would press it through the holes and spin the wisps onto paper cones.
Initially, it was dubbed Fairy Floss and they made a large profit when they debuted it at the St. Louis World Fair in 1904. Selling 68, 655 for a quarter each, they profited $17,163.75. That is a large profit even by today’s standards.
There was a fourth little known man in Louisiana who also created this type of confection in his restaurant. He sold it from his business and is known by his last name only, Lascaux. Although he never patented it, it was a form of cotton candy as well. He did see his business increase with the addition of this confection on his menu.
Although Thomas Patton received the first patent, it seems the biggest success went to Morrison and Wharton. Who is the inventor? Where did it originate? Truly, it originated way back in the 14th century but time has a way of blurring things.
Cotton candy is pure sugar, originally in pink and tasted only like sugar. Now, you have many choices. With modern technology and begin forced to keep up with changes, many different flavors and colors have been introduced. Raspberry, bubblegum, cake batter, sour apple and lime are a few of the flavors. Most, however, still adhere to the original flavor and enjoy its low fat and 100 calorie snack-ability.
While pure sugar is by no means a great snack item, cotton candy or fairy floss if you want to call it, it a staple of fairs, the circus and even pizza places. Simply put, cotton candy isfun to eat, melts in your mouth and tastes great.
An interesting fact: December 7 is National Cotton Candy Day.