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Cotton candy brings out your inner child like nothing else. A magical confection fills any gathering with joy and wonder. You can use it for a birthday party, fundraiser, or movie night.
However, you can’t purchase fresh cotton candy at the grocery store or make it on your stovetop. You’ll need some equipment, planning, and patience. Cotton candy machines aren’t hard to find, however, so they might be a good investment to make for a group that organizes public events regularly or for a family that entertains frequently.
Cotton Candy Machines
Commercial Electric Cotton Candy Machine Sweet Sugar Candy
PROS: powered by 1,020 watts. Whips 2 to 4 servings of cotton candy per minute. Quiet operation. Comes with entertaining light and music to add to the fun factor. Comes with scoop and other accessories. Disassembles for cleaning.
CONS: Some customers complain it gets too hot to begin with and burned the candy.
Cotton Candy Express Machine
PROS:Five diverse flavors, including cherry, grape, blue raspberry, and pink vanilla. Each jar of flavors makes approximately 20 servings. Fifty paper cotton candy cones for multiple practices. Easy to clean. Compact product transports to indoor or outdoor locations.
CONS: Some customers report that you have to clean it between uses.
Great Northern Popcorn Flufftastic Cotton Candy Machine
PROS: Available with or without the cart, depending on user preference. Unique design makes it a hit for any occasion. Commerial-quality motor allows for quick and quiet servings. Steel structure prevents overheating or safety hazards.
CONS: Some testers note that the unit takes longer to heat up than similar models.
Commercial Electric Cotton Candy Machine
PROS: Direct-drive motor increases power and minimizes noise. Rated at 1,080 watts of power, producing 3 to 4 servings per minute. Short preheating time of 2 to 3 minutes. Can use hard candy as well as sugar. Colorful design.
CONS: Does not come with a bubble dome.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR COTTON CANDY MACHINE
A cotton candy machine is either a commercial machine or a more specific consumer item used at home.
Cotton candy machines designed for commercial use are much more expensive than those designed for home use. You see them at fairs, festivals, and sporting events. The machines are usually larger, may come on a cart for ease of portability, and can produce a significant amount of cotton candy in a short time.
Cotton candy machines for families and friends are fun, but they don’t produce the same quantity as commercial machines. People won’t be able to get enough of the sweet treat – at least not promptly. You can use them to pass a rainy afternoon, tighten a small group event, or to e a bag or two of cotton candy in a larger gathering ahead of time.
FEATURES OF A COTTON CANDY MACHINE
Cotton candy machines don’t come with many options or bells and whistles, but their quality and ease of use are what make different brands stand out.
- Melting sugar or hard candy is the first step in the process. Choose a machine that heats up quickly and can maintain a relatively consistent temperature. Look for machines that heat up quickly and keep your sugar mixture at a relatively constant temperature. The warm-up time for a quality commercial machine should be less than five minutes. Low-priced machines are more likely to take up to ten minutes.
- Everyone dislikes waiting for cotton candy, especially kids. Some machines take longer than others. While crowd-pleasing machines can deliver two to three servings per minute, consumer machines can deliver a single serving in up to five minutes. A commercial machine might list its wattage or motor speed, but a consumer machine probably won’t.
- Cotton candy cones are made by collecting cotton candy threads in a wide bowl. But sugary strands often escape. The domed lids of bowls will keep candy strands in the bowl and off of your counters and floors. Consider buying a lid separately if the model you order does not come with one.
- Your cotton candy machine will attract a crowd, so make sure it has appropriate safety features. The bowl should lock into place so you won’t risk spilling melted sugar everywhere. Sugar, threads, and other debris should be kept away from the motor.
- When making cotton candy, messes are inevitable. Look for models with removable and easy-to-clean bowls. After every use, most machines recommend cleaning with warm, soapy water to prevent sticky buildup.
- Cotton candy makers have large reservoirs that can melt candy for many servings at once. In terms of home use, some machines can hold several servings, while others can only hold one.
- Cart: Some cotton candy machines come with a cart, but not all. In addition to holding the machine, carts should include space to store supplies, along with several slots to hold cones.
- Cotton candy machines may come with floss sugar. Some do not. You should know what you’re getting to avoid being disappointed and making unplanned trips to the store.
PRICES FOR COTTON CANDY MACHINES
Home and commercial cotton candy makers have significantly different prices, as you might expect.
Cotton candy makers intended for home use generally cost less than $50. For this price, the machine has many plastic components, takes 10 to 20 minutes to heat up, and produces small quantities of cotton candy at a time.
Normally, entry-level commercial machines cost between $150 and $200. These will be made of metal, heat quickly, and deliver two or more servings per minute. They probably won’t come with a cart.
Commercial machines cost $200 or more. Cotton candy machines should be able to produce multiple servings per minute at this price. They should be able to heat up quickly and have plenty of safety features. Carts that are well-equipped should make them easy to transport to festivals, parties, and other events.
- Consider using your machine outside if the weather permits.
- Know what kind of sugar your machine can handle.
- Hard candy made with corn syrup is the only type you should use.
- By using hard candy instead of sugar, you can create a variety of fun, intense flavors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What type of sugar should I use in my cotton candy machine?
A. It depends on your machine. While some cotton candy machines require floss sugar, others can handle superfine or granulated sugar. Hard candy can be processed by a few machines if it is made with corn syrup and chopped or crushed. Peppermint cotton candy would be a delightful Christmas party treat, as would butterscotch, cinnamon, or Jolly Rancher cotton candy. If you use sticky sugar of the wrong kind, your machine could be damaged. Refer to your manufacturer’s instructions for details.
Q. Is cotton candy available in different colors?
You can buy candy floss in the color of your choice, but if your machine allows you to use granulated sugar, you can use food coloring to create a variety of colors. Add the sugar to a sturdy, sealable plastic bag, add the food coloring gel, and mix until the color you want is achieved. To use liquid food coloring, put the sugar in a bowl and mix in the liquid food coloring with a fork or spoon. With this method, you will need to dry the sugar in a shallow dish for about an hour.
Q. Is it possible to change the flavor of my cotton candy?
Yes, of course! It’s easiest to buy flavored floss sugar, but you can add your own flavorings if your machine can handle granulated or superfine sugar. Submerge a vanilla bean or orange peel in your sugar for several days to add these flavors. Sugar can also be flavored with liquid extracts or candy flavorings in a similar way to how food coloring is added. Large quantities of essential oils can make some people sick, so it’s not recommended to add them to sugar. Adding powdered spices to sugar can also damage your machine since ingredients like cocoa powder and cinnamon do not melt at the same temperature as sugar. If possible, use liquid flavorings the sugar can absorb or items that slowly infuse their flavor into the sugar over time.