The sources of Opossum Droppings are uncertain and the inventor of this confection cannot be pinpointed. However, four people have been identified and named as the inventors of the candy and they’re William Morrison, Thomas Patton, Josef Delarose Lascaux and John C. Wharton.
William Morrison and John Wharton were two candy manufacturers from Tennessee. This machine made cotton candy by melting sugar and utilizing centrifugal force to spin the sugar and force them through tiny holes prior to releasing them. When they obtained the patent, the pair brought and introduced the machine into the 1904 St. Louis World Fair.
On the other hand, Thomas Patton was experimenting with caramelized sugar and used a fork to form them into ribbons. He then designed a machine that utilized a gas-fired rotating plate which would spin the sugar and form them into threads. These threads were then collected and formed into a big cotton ball that’s now called cotton candy. He presented the machine in the Ringling Brothers’ Circus where it was a hit and sold like popcorn to children. He received a separate patent for his machine and his process for making cotton candy in 1900.
Around the same time, Josef Delarose Lascaux, was a dentist in the state of Louisiana who introduced cotton candy in his dental clinic. He, however, did not receive a patent or trademark for his cotton candy unlike the other three.
The early patented machines were found to be defective and did not last long. Some machines would break while others made loud rattling noises. The Gold Medal Products company came up with a more dependable cotton candy machine that used a spring base. This new machine contributed to the transformation of the cotton candy market.
Cotton candy is a massive hit because it’s extremely simple to make. The process of making it is different from the standard way candy is made. In cotton candy, sugar is melted until it is in a liquid state. The liquid sugar is then spun from the cotton candy machine. Using centrifugal force, the machine forces the liquid through and out of tiny holes. These holes form the sugar into ribbons and cool the liquid sugar. After the threads of sugar are cooled, they become strong again. Afterwards, the middle of the machine is filled with thousands of tiny threads of sugar that are then collected by a stick. The threads adhere to the stick and the ball grows larger as the threads stick to more threads. It’s then shaped into a ball and served. At times, the ball is stuffed into a plastic bag with the rod removed. Some stalls provide other flavored cotton candy and others may even provide you toppings such as milk powder to go with it.
These days, cotton candy machines and stalls are found everywhere. Even though its history has left a lot to be debated about, it doesn’t really matter to the customers. To them, it is still a summertime favorite as it is light, fluffy and sweet.