3. Cotton Candy

Sugar lovers, thank Nashville, they gave you cotton candy. In 1897, William Morrison and John C. Wharton found a method of spinning heated sugar into what was originally called “fairy floss.”

About the inventors…..

William James Morrison (1860-1926), from Nashville was a noted dentist, lawyer, author and leader in civic and political affairs. An 1890 graduate of the University of Tennessee Dental College, Dr. Morrison became President of the Tennessee State Dental Association in 1894. Additionally, he was a popular author of children’s books and particularly effective in fostering reading among youngsters. Also, Dr. Morrison patented several important inventions.

He developed a process for extracting oils from cotton seed, and converting them into a lard substitute. Likewise, he devised a chemical process to purify the public drinking water for Nashville. In 1897, he and John C. Wharton (a fellow Nashville candy maker) conceived and co-patented an “electric candy machine” which produced cotton candy (then called “Fairy Floss”.)

At the World’s Fair, Doc Morrison and Wharton sold Fairly Floss for $0.25 a box, a hefty price back in 1904, equivalent to $5.99 today. The partners grossed $17,163.75, more than $410,000 in today’s dollars.  Not bad, considering back then the average U.S. worker was earning between $200 and $400 a year. (Did we mention the cost of sugar was only four cents a pound and this well-received new confection was mostly air? These guys were literally spinning gold!

In 1920 Fairy Floss was reborn as cotton and in 1972, inventors patented an automatic cotton candy making machine, greatly speeding up the production process.