It’s sticky, it’s messy and it’s just the thing to eat at a fair. Children or adults, most people do not consider a mela or fair complete without the giant-wheel and the fluffy cotton candy wrapped around a stick. Or budhiya ke baal (old woman’s hair), as it is popularly known in parts of northern India.

And do you know what it is made of? Well, next time, don’t gobble up the whole of the candy. Instead, put a bit of it in water. In a matter of seconds the candy will disappear. No, it’s not magic. The candy is made of sugar and it dissolves the moment it’s put in water.

The truth is, your favourite confectionery is actually just a few tablespoons of sugar! But making this sugar ‘cottony’ is a bit tough. Let us take a closer look.

What is Cotton Candy?
What is Cotton Candy?

How is cotton candy made?

Look closely at how the candy_walla_ makes candy. First, he pours sugar into a small container set in the middle of a deep circular tray. Often, he adds a chemical called a colourant. This chemical is what gives colour to the candy (because sugar by itself is colourless).

What is Cotton Candy? [Illustration by Shinod AP]
What is Cotton Candy? [Illustration by Shinod AP]

This small container (or holder) has incredibly teeny holes and contains an in-built heater that melts the sugar into a sticky liquid. The holder is connected to a small motor that causes it to rotate. As it spins incredibly fast, and liquid sugar splashes out of the tiny holes. As soon as the hot liquid hits the air, it cools, and solidifies, forming threads of sugar in the circular tray.

The candy man then pops in a stick, deftly wraps these threads of candy around it and hands his creation to you!

298 words | 2 minutes
Readability: Grade 6 (11-12 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: 5ws and h
Tags: #chemicals, #cotton, #sugar

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