Clouds should have been the obvious choice. But for the source of cotton candy, my 4-year-old self looked into the dark corner of a gym beyond the bleachers and royal blue tumbling mats, where I spotted a wad of light gray fluff. I crammed a fistful of the billowy stuff in my mouth and learned that it was not sweet, would not melt and, as explained by my gym teacher, was actually a dirty thing that went by the deceivingly cute name dust bunny. 

Decades later, I still was unsure of the origins of cotton candy (though acutely aware that it doesn't occur naturally). So in preparation for the cotton candy season--when one vendor churns through 1,400 pounds of pink sugar during the 11-day North Carolina State Fair--I settled in at the library to find its roots.

The details resided in the Journal of the History of Dentistry , which reports that in 1897, William James Morrison, former President of the Tennessee State Dental Association, co-created a machine capable of producing cottony strands of crystallized sugar. (The dentist with a law degree also penned several children's books and made a substitute for lard out of cottonseed oil.)

 *Read on in the Indy Week.


AuthorEmily Wallace