Machine-spun cotton candy was introduced in 1897 by William Morrison and John C. Warton. The two Tennessee candy-makers invented the world’s first cotton candy machine.

In 1904, Morrison and Wharton took their cotton candy, which they called “fairy floss,” to the St. Louis World’s Fair. They sold each box for 25 cents. Though this may not seem like much today, it was half the price of an admission ticket to the fair back then!

Even though people may have thought the candy was expensive, they were willing to pay for it. Morrison and Wharton sold more than 68,000 boxes of fairy floss at the fair.

Though demand was high, the first cotton candy machines were very unreliable. They rattled and frequently broke down.

In 1949, Gold Metal Products of Cincinnati, Ohio, introduced a spring base for the machines that helped tremendously. Today, Gold Medal Products manufactures almost all cotton candy machines.

Ever wonder what happens inside the cotton candy machine? First, sugar is melted until it becomes a liquid. Then, the liquid sugar is spun as the machine forces it through tiny holes that shape and cool the liquid. After it cools, the sugar becomes a solid again.

The thousands of tiny crystallized sugar threads are then collected by gently rotating a paper cone around the inside of the machine. Once the puff of cotton candy is just the right size, it's time to eat!

In case you're curious about how cotton candy gets its signature pink and blue coloring, you may be surprised to find out that cotton candy, just like sugar, is naturally white. Pink and blue cotton candy is colored with food dyes.

Sweet facts about fairy floss:

  • National Cotton Candy Day is celebrated on November 7 each year.
  • There is only one ingredient in cotton candy: sugar.
  • There is about as much sugar in cotton candy as in a can of soda.


Wonder What's Next?

Prepare to wash down today’s sweet treat with a deep sea wonder tomorrow. Make sure to bring your snorkel!