cotton candy day

July 31 Homemade Cotton Candy for cotton candy day #fantasticdrivel

Wednesday is my night to cook dinner. But it is also a weekly opportunity for me to share some fantastic drivel—things you didn’t care you didn’t know—with you, dear reader.

July 31, 2013 is Cotton Candy Day. Yes, I’m aware that cotton candy is more of a dessert than a dinner, but my research for dinner options yielded very little fruit. July 31 is also Flag Day in Hawaii, so I did add coconut flavoring to my cotton candy. A token gesture, to be sure, but I was really excited about making homemade cotton candy!

I should mention that “National Cotton Candy Day” in the United States is on December 7th. Cotton candy seems like a strange way to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day, however, so I prefer the less nationalistic “Cotton Candy Day” celebrated July 31st.

Cotton candy is made by spinning strands of molten sugar around a stick. “Spun sugar” shows up in European history as early as the 18th century, but as it was expensive and time-consuming to make, it was a luxury confection for the rich folk.

Machine-spun cotton candy was invented in 1897 by the dentist William Morrison and confectioner John C. Wharton and first introduced to a wide audience at the 1904 World’s Fair as “Fairy Floss” with great success, selling 68,655 boxes at 25¢ per box (equivalent to $6 per box today). Joseph Lascaux, a dentist from New Orleans, Louisiana, invented a similar cotton candy machine in 1921. In fact, the Lascaux patent named the sweet confection “cotton candy” and the “fairy floss” name faded away, although it retains this name in Australia. |from Wikipedia

What a brilliant business partnership: a dentist and a confectioner. Reminds me of a line from a Tom Lehrer song, “The Old Dope Peddler”:

He gives the kids free samples
because he knows full well
that today’s young innocent faces
will be tomorrow’s clientele.

(pictures of my cotton candy attempt after the cut)

The recipe I used came from the cooking-books blog and includes an excellent discussion of the whole process. The blog post and recipe are based on “Sugar Baby” by Gesine Bullock-Prado. Gesine, by the way, is Sandra Bullock’s sister, and has written four fabulous books about cooking (read about them on her website,

Sadly, I was only able to spin two cotton candies before my molten sugar began to harden. I then royally screwed the pooch by popping it in the microwave…which caused it to carmelize. Oh well. Better luck next time.

These pictures showcase the better parts of my effort.

homemade cotton candy: these silky strands of molten sugar must be spun around a stick before they cool #fantasticdrivel

these silky strands of molten sugar must be spun around a stick before they cool
(photo by Caroline Pugh with Michael Hanna)

homemade cotton candy: these silky strands of molten sugar must be spun around a stick before they cool #fantasticdrivel

those same molten-sugar strands, cropped tighter for your viewing pleasure
(photo by Caroline Pugh with Michael Hanna)

homemade cotton candy #fantasticdrivel

the two cotton candies I cranked out after several hours of work

back to dinner


July 31, 2013: Cotton Candy Day. I made Homemade Cotton Candy. Read the recipe and writeup on the cooking-books blog, and/or check out the book it’s based on, “Sugar Baby” by Gesine Bullock-Prado.

I pin photos of my Wednesday culinary creations to my Pinterest board, Another Wednesday Dinner. You can see other dishes I’ve made there, but you can only get the backstory right here, on fantasticdrivel. Thanks for reading!

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