Episode 106: Cotton Candy

Monday, September 10, 2018
Because it's state fair time, we decided to talk about a requested topic (thanks, listener Chad!)--cotton candy! We get into the history of the World's Fair in 1904 and how it came on the scene and what was introduced at that World's Fair. It was historic. We also delve into how spun sugar was the precursor of cotton candy and how cotton candy is made. Fascinating! Plus, Sharon puts in her two cents on a rice cooker and Winter tells us about moon cakes.

Let's taco 'bout it!

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Let's taco 'bout it!

  • Food Nerd Shoutout: Joyce S. told us she needs to eat some cheese after reading the Anthony Bordain quotation about cheese that our guest, Vanessa Chang, shared during her episodes on choosing cheese (listen here) and about the American Cheese Society's Certified Cheese Professional exam (and listen to the other episode here). Thanks for commenting and supporting us, Joyce!
  • Let's Dig into the Kitchen Drawer: Sharon shares a "workhorse" of her kitchen: the Aroma 6-cup Rice Cooker. It even cooked a Lundberg Wild Blend (brown rice/wild rice combination) with no problems. Granted Sharon did guilt the rice cooker into doing its job and threatening to buy an Instant Pot instead (ha ha!). It's a kitchen warrior, in fact! (Winter tells her story of taking home a new Yamada rice-cooker on the plane as carry-on luggage! She won't give it up, even now that she has an Instant Pot.) Sharon's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

  • We're talking all about cotton candy on today's episode. Thanks for requesting this sweet and interesting topic suggested on Instagram by one of our listeners, Chad. 
  • When is your state fair? The Utah State Fair is happening right now! Don't miss the Blue Oyster Cult! ;) Or the Big Yellow Slide! Or the Dutch Oven Cooking Contest (hey Ned from Dutch Oven Daddy)!
  • Cotton candy was invented in 1897 by dentist William Morrison (a dentist!) and confectioner John C. Wharton. It was introduced widely in 1904 at the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. This fair was also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Attendance was about 19.7 million people.

  • Other things that were introduced at that World's Fair: the electric street car, the personal automobile, the ice cream cone, radiation therapy (Fensin light), the X-Ray machine, the "infant incubator", the wireless telephone (aka the radio telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell), the teleautograph (precursor to the fax machine), Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey (he got the gold medal for the finest whiskey in the world), the ice cream cone, puffed rice, and Dr. Pepper!
  • It was known as Fairy Floss at the 1904 World' Fair (and is still called Fairy Floss in Australia). They sold 68,655 boxes at 25 cents a box. That equals to about just under a half a million dollars in today's dollar!
  • In the UK, cotton candy is known as papa's beard. 

  • You can get different flavors, including blue raspberry, cherry vanilla, bubblegum, banana, chocolate, vanilla, watermelon, and maple syrup. There are much more contemporary flavors, such as lychee, 
  • National Cotton Candy Day is December 7 (or maybe July 31).
  • You can hear about how sugar changes in our caramelization episode here. The basic building block of sugar is carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The bonds holding the sucrose together will break apart when heat is applied. Hydrogen and oxygen will get together and form water, then carbon is left.
  • Spun sugar is the precursor to cotton candy, being made in the 15th century by Italian chefs.
  • The cotton candy machine consists of a funnel where the sugar goes, a heating element to warm the sugar to make it molten, and the outer bowl to catch the fibers of sugar that are flung out of the tiny holes in the funnel, and the centrifuge to spin the funnel at high speeds.

  • Introducing Interesting Ingredients: On September 24, 2018 is the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival and moon cakes (not moon pies) are eaten. It's autumn (though the pumpkin spice hasn't really come out in full force yet), so this happens on the full moon of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. There are many legends surrounding this festival. 
  • Moon cakes are generally filled with lotus paste or black bean paste, though nowadays, there are much fancier and creative types and fillings.
  • Send us an email at hungrysquared@gmail.com.
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