How is cotton candy made? Steps to making the sugary treat

Have you ever wondered how cotton candy is made? The secret is plenty of sugar with tasty flavors. Cotton candy is most commonly served as pink vanilla or blue raspberry.

How is cotton candy made? Steps to making the sugary treat

Cotton candy is a favorite carnival snack. 

The melt-in-your-mouth treat has even been used as a beverage garnish. 

While cotton candy is popularly served at fairs and festivals, you can also make the treat at home or serve it at the next event you host, like a birthday party. 


If you don't want to commit to buying your own cotton candy machine, you can always rent one instead. 

Read on to dive into more details about the history of cotton candy and how it is made today. 

Dr. William Morrison, a dentist, teamed up with candy maker John C. Wharton in 1897 to create the earliest version of the "electric candy machine" we know today to create cotton candy.

The cotton candy machine created by the inventors allowed for sugar to be heated by an element at the base of the dish in the middle of the machine, rather than in a pan over an open fire, according to How Stuff Works. 

At the time, cotton candy was called "fairy floss." 

The inventors debuted it at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, according to Gold Medal Products, the company that created the first factory-made cotton candy machine. 

The inventors sold the snack for 25 cents each. 

In six months, they were able to sell 68,000 boxes of cotton candy, according to the source. 

The ingredients that make up cotton candy are very simple: air and sugar. 


Originally, cotton candy was just made using pure sugar without any additional flavorings. 

The most classic variations of cotton candy are pink vanilla and blue raspberry. 

Those were the earliest flavors of the treat and remain the most popular today, although there have been others served since. 

Today, you can find cotton candy in flavors like lemon, grape, orange, green apple, cherry and others. 

More unique flavors include maple, buttered popcorn, bacon and even pickle.  

A cotton candy machine is made up of a base topped with a large bowl with a much smaller dish at its center. 

The first step in making cotton candy is pouring your sugar into the center dish, being sure not to overfill. 

Then, turn the machine on. The center dish will start to rapidly spin and heat up to about 300 degrees, melting down the sugar. 


The melted sugar inside is then pushed through tiny holes in the dish. When it exits the spinning dish, you'll see the cotton candy start to take shape. 

The larger bowl on the outside will catch all the cotton candy that is made. 

Cotton candy is traditionally served on a paper cone or in a tub or plastic bag. 

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To collect the cotton candy that is made, keep your cone around the outside of the machine, swirling it slightly in your hands as you collect the cotton candy. 

Beware, this is typically a very sticky job. 

Then, you just swirl your cone around the bowl until you've collected enough cotton candy to enjoy. Keep in mind that if you are serving cotton candy at a birthday party, for example, you'll likely have to shut off your machine often and refill your sugar depending on the specific machine you have or rent.

Luckily, the sugar melts quickly, and you'll have cotton candy in no time.