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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Writing all the words every day is harder than it looks. That may not be apparent from how many of them I write, but it requires some thinking and figuring things out and editing even though it may not seem that way.

Then the whole agony of finding a photo because sometimes I can’t think of a photo for the life of me so I have to search everywhere for something that makes sense. Or sometimes I know exactly the photo I want which means it will take me an hour to find it.

If I wasn’t doing this project, I could, I don’t know, get off the couch sometimes?

Point being that I was thinking about thematic things I could write about that would at least give me a bucket to fish in.

Like Trivia Tuesday or Throwback Thursday.

Since half my blog is a throwback, the latter isn’t very helpful, but I like trivia. There is always something cool to learn.

So I decided to give it a try and see if trivia would be a fun category of stuff to word about.

But it’s not Tuesday.

I pondered this for a bit, then decided… so?

It’s Trivia Anyday, how’s that?

Besides, I can’t have an idea then not write about it for four days because it would just keep flailing about in my brain until I paid it attention. An idea is like a four year old child. It jumps around and yells a lot and wants you to shower praise upon it, and when you don’t it gets irritable and yells louder and sometimes cries, so really, you can’t do much but sigh a little and say yes, dear?

So I’m going with Trivia Whenever The Heck I Want It.

It happened because my boardwalk survey inspired my brother Stephen to ask a related trivia question on his lottery livestream. And his trivia question inspired me to learn more about it.

The Möbius strip of trivia.

It’s about cotton candy.

The only thing I knew prior to his livestream is that cotton candy is delicious.

His question was: where was it invented?

I couldn’t help think of the Jersey Shore but what’s the likelihood that salt water taffy AND cotton candy would come from there?

So I looked it up and fell down the rabbit hole right into Nashville.

That’s right, friends and neighbors, cotton candy was created right here in good old Nashville, Tennessee. They can’t do bagels or pizza or Italian subs, but gosh darnit they figured out how to do one of the best summer treats on the menu.

But wait, it gets better.

The original name of cotton candy?

Fairy floss.

Gotta say, I’m kind of partial to that name. Either way, props to whoever stuck with alliteration.

But wait, it gets better.

Guy who invented cotton candy?

A dentist.

A guy from Nashville named William Morrison got together with friend and candy maker, John C. Wharton, to invent a machine that would melt, then spin, then re-solidify sugar into fluffy, silky strands.

These are the things that make you love science.

Before we continue with the trivia, because there is more cool stuff, I promise, I need to make a very definitive statement.

Cotton candy should not never ever come in a bag or bucket.

At that point it’s just sugar.

I can buy a bag of that and spoon it into my mouth if I want to.

The point is to get a huge, fluffy, airy cone of it that melts on your face, not a woolen gob of it that’s been compressed into something you could use for lumbar support if you had to.

Cotton candy, people. Not cotton clag.

Anyway, back to the cool.

The cotton candy machine was invented and patented in 1897 but the world would have to wait seven sad, floss-less years for it to be introduced to the public at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

By then the dentist and candy maker friend had sold their machine to The Electric Candy Machine Company, also of Nashville, who debuted the machine at the fair.

Cost of a ticket to attend the World’s Fair? Fifty cents.

Cost for one box of cotton candy? Twenty five cents.

Think about that. It costs forty bucks to get into Six Flags Great Adventure these days. So that would be like paying $20 for cotton candy.

Which… is not out of the realm of possibility, to be fair… but people who post irritable reviews online tell me that it currently costs $6-$8. So really, a bargain!

Anyway, that did not stop people from buying it.

They sold 68,655 boxes of it… yes, boxes. It doesn’t seem like it came with a cone but since the internet likes to regurgitate itself instead of telling you anything new, I could not find any information about where the cone came in. And I didn’t have all day. So if you figure it out, let me know.

Also unclear: when it became pink.

The original cotton candy was white, because sugar is white, which personally I think would be way more interesting.

Everything is some garish color these days. Just imagine how intriguing it would be to have a singular fluff of a sugary white cloud of perfection being handed to you on a hot summer day.

Other thing I found on the internet but never in real life? Cotton candy flavors like dill pickle and gingerbread.

Not sure how I feel about that. But I’d try it. For science.

Final tidbit on this Trivia Whenever I Want It To Be Trivia Day: cotton candy is called different things around the world. In Australia is it still called fairy floss. In England, candy floss. In the Netherlands, suikerspin, which means sugar spider. And in France, bless their souls, barbe à papa, which means papa’s beard.

Whatever it’s called, spin it onto a cone and hand it to me on a boardwalk and I’m in.

Photo: in the background, some cotton candy on the Boarrdwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey. Most importantly, a cotton candy cocktail that Kevin made a few summers ago.