Cotton Candy and Other Fair Foods

cotton candy

It might be odd to start thinking about Summer fairs already. But, sometimes we need a nice warm thought to get us through a cold winter. Especially, when we imagine all the glorious food that there is to eat. In today’s blog, we’re exploring the history and production of beloved fair-staple cotton candy. And, countdown our other top contenders that we can encounter.

What is cotton candy?

Cotton candy is a spun sugar confection that resemble cotton. It is also known as fairy floss or candy floss. It is often sold at fairs, circuses, carnivals, and festivals in a plastic bag, on a stick, or on a paper cone.

The origin lies in a form of spun sugar found in 19th century Europe. At the time, spun sugar was an expensive, labour-intensive endeavour. Therefore, it was not generally available to the average person.

However, this was all to change in 1897 with the invention of machine-spun cotton candy. Dentist William Morrison and confectioner John C. Wharton introduced their “fairy floss” at the 1904 World’s Fair. They sold 68,655 boxes at 25 cents each (that’s equivalent to $7.20 today).

Another inventor, Albert D. Robinson, submitted his patent for an Electric Candy-Spinning Machine in 1905. This patent still remains today as the basic candy floss machine.

From all these inventions and more came about the ease of producing and selling spun-sugar. And, funnily enough, lead to the birth of Cotton Candy Day being celebrated on December 7th.

How Is It Made?

Typical machines include a spinning head enclosing a small bowl containing granulated coloured sugar. Heaters near the rim of the head melt the sugar – which is then squeezed out through tiny holes by centrifugal force. The molten sugar solidifies in the air and is caught in a larger bowl which surrounds the spinning head. This is left to operate for a period while the cotton-like product builds up along the walls.

Lastly, the machine operators twirls a stick or a cone around the rim of the bowl and then serves it to the customer. The machine must be refilled with sugar before starting the process again.

Cotton candy is sensitive to humidity. So, although we think of it as a Summer treat, the warmer months encourage its messiness and stickiness.


Dye and/or flavouring is added to the sugar base in order to transform the typically white product. In the US, the two predominate flavour-blend colours are blue raspberry and pink vanilla.

Other Fair Food

Cotton candy is a classic treat for a day at the fair. Check out some other fair-appropriate foods!

About the Author

Lydia B.

Lydia B.

Lydia B. is a Marketing Coordinator and Music Club Coach for Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers Math, English, SAT, Coding, Spanish tutoring, and more.