Floss sugar is used to make cotton candy. This type of sugar is derived from sugar cane, and it is specially formulated to melt in industrial cotton candy machines.
While cotton candy sugar is similar to the granulated sugar used in home kitchens, the crystals of regular granulated sugar are too small to work in an industrial cotton candy machine. Floss sugar is made of optimally sized grains. The sugar is pretreated for proper melting, and it also comes pre-colored.
Cotton candy makers use a cotton candy machine to melt the sugar to a liquid state. The machine then spins, forcing the sugar through small holes. The sugar cools as it flows through the holes, causing it to solidify as thousands of tiny threads. In portable cotton candy machines, such as those used at carnivals and fairs, the threads are then spun together and served on a stick, while in industrial cotton candy production, the sugar threads are transported via conveyor belt and combined into a large bundle. Mass production of cotton candy began in 1972, when the first automatic cotton candy machine was patented.
Sugar has always been the main ingredient in cotton candy, although the exact history of cotton candy is unclear. John C. Wharton and William Morrison received a patent for a cotton candy machine in 1899, and Thomas Patton received one in 1900 for a method utilizing a fork. Yet another method was pioneered by Josef Delarose Lascaux, but he never received a patent. In 1949, Gold Medal Products introduced the first standard cotton candy machine.