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National Cotton Candy Day

Today celebrates cotton candy, a popular confection at fairs, circuses, and amusement parks, that is almost all sugar. There is some indication that cotton candy originated from "spun sugar" in Europe in the 19th century. But, the story and creation of machine-spun cotton candy as we know it goes back to a handful of people at the turn of the 20th century, some of whom were, ironically, dentists. In 1897, confectioner John C. Wharton and dentist William Morrison invented the electric-spinning cotton candy machine, which they filed a patent for. At the 1904 World's Fair, The Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, they introduced their confection as "fairy floss." They sold more than 68,000 boxes of their treat, at 25 cents a box, for a total of more than $17,000. Similarly, Thomas Patton also experimented in heating sugar to create cotton candy. His creation debuted at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus around 1900. Some sources conflate the Patton story with the Wharton and Morrison story, and some also claim it was Patton's machine that was used at the World's Fair, after it was tweaked by the Electric Candy Machine Company. Whatever the case, it is clear that cotton candy debuted sometime around the turn of the 20th century.

Although the confection had been created, it did not yet have the name cotton candy. Another dentist, Josef Lascaux, built a machine and sold the treat to patients in his Louisiana office. It is believed that he is the one that changed the name to "cotton candy," in 1921. In 1949, Gold Medal Products created an improved cotton candy machine that had a spring base, and most cotton candy machines are still made by this company today. Cotton candy machines are operated by putting a sugar called floss sugar into a small spinning bowl which heats it up. As it spins and heats, it gets pulled out into a larger outer bowl by centrifugal force, where it solidifies in the air, and is caught by a stick or cone. Although cotton candy consists almost entirely of sugar, it is now most times flavored and colored, with two of the most popular varieties being blue raspberry and pink vanilla.

How to Observe National Cotton Candy Day

Celebrate the day by eating cotton candy. Oftentimes it can be bought premade at a store. Although most commercial cotton candy machines are quite expensive, those for everyday residential use are not. You could celebrate the day by buying one and making your own cotton candy.

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