The Fountain of Youth – Cotton Candy

My daughter has wanted a cotton candy machine for a long time and she finally received one from her brother this past Christmas. At first, I was convinced that this was yet another item that would be used once and then sit on a shelf for the rest of time, collecting dust. That is of course until a cleaning blitz finds it being sold at a garage sale in a few years.

My daughter excitedly opened the box, with visions of cotton candy for Christmas breakfast, but we discovered that it did not include any of the ingredients required to make the cotton candy. The instructions said you could use hard candy as an option but amazingly, considering it was during the holidays, we looked around and could not find any suitable hard candies. I decided to do a quick google search and discovered that the hard candy approach wouldn’t yield good results and there were recommendations to use true cotton candy sugar (made for the commercial ‘carnival’ machines). After some further searching, I serendipitously found a store that sells that type of sugar, less than a 5-minute drive from the house. We went a couple of days later when the store was open. There were several flavors available and we selected 3: Pink Vanilla, Blue Raspberry, and Grape.

We rushed home, assembled the machine and started it up. (Admittedly, I may have been more excited than my daughter). The first attempt was frustrating, resuting in a mess of pink floss and ugly melted globs on the paper cone. The second attempt was marginally better and resulted in a slightly less messy paper cone, this time in blue floss. Frustrated but determined, I continued. By the fourth or fifth attempt, I found my groove and figured out the secret to great looking cotton candy floss. We ate cotton candy to our heart’s delight and then packed up the machine back into the box.

A few weeks later, it was the kids birthdays (2 days apart). Keeping up with tradition, we invited our extended families over for a get-together/birthday party. As the night progressed, I decided to take the cotton candy machine out. One-by-one, the kids all congregated around, watching in amazement as I created magical cotton candy in front of their eyes. “I want a pink one!”, “Can I have a blue one?” – The orders came in and one by one, I spun the sugar and handed out the treats.

Then unexpectedly, a few of the adults started lining up and before you knew it, each of the adults was asking for some. Happily, I continued making the cones and handed them out as they were ready. There was a child-like giddiness to adults as they took their first bite. For some, they hadn’t eaten cotton candy in several years. I looked around as everyone had smiles on their faces and it dawned on me that cotton candy may just be the fountain of youth, maybe if only for the 2 minutes it took for them to eat the candy floss, but it was quite amazing.

I have always resisted ‘growing up’ but at some point, like the rest of us, I succumbed to the necessities and pressures of life. Life is not easy and it has the tendency of carving out the child-like innocence that we each start with. Every once in a while, we need things to remind us of a simpler existence, something that makes life a little easier and sweeter. In this case, that sweetness was brought on by some spun sugar on a paper cone.

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