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Did a Dentist Really Invent Cotton Candy?

Sweet Tooth’s Dream: Discovering the Fascinating Story of Cotton Candy’s Inventor!

Did a Dentist Really Invent Cotton Candy?

Was Cotton Candy Invented by a Dentist?

Cotton candy is a beloved treat enjoyed by people of all ages. Its origin, however, has been a subject of debate and controversy. One claim that has gained traction over the years is that cotton candy was invented by a dentist. In this article, we will explore this claim and analyze the evidence for and against its validity.

The Claim

The claim that cotton candy was invented by a dentist is not new. It has been circulating for decades and has even made its way into popular culture. The claim is based on the fact that cotton candy is made by spinning sugar in a machine, which is similar to the technique used in dental flossing. It is said that a dentist named William Morrison invented cotton candy in 1897, with the help of a candy maker named John C. Wharton. According to the claim, Morrison and Wharton developed the machine that spun the sugar, and Morrison obtained a patent for it.

The Evidence

The evidence for and against the claim that cotton candy was invented by a dentist is varied. On one hand, there is the patent held by William Morrison for his candy making machine. The patent, which Morrison obtained in 1899, describes a machine that could produce cotton candy by spinning sugar in a container. This certainly supports the claim that Morrison was involved in the invention of cotton candy.

However, there are also some inconsistencies with the claim. For example, cotton candy was already being sold at fairs and carnivals before Morrison's patent was granted. There are also reports of other inventors who were experimenting with spinning sugar before Morrison. Additionally, John C. Wharton, who is said to have helped Morrison invent cotton candy, did not mention anything about the dentist in his own patent applications.

Another piece of evidence that contradicts the claim is the fact that Morrison himself did not mention anything about dental flossing in his patent application. In fact, he described the machine as a "new art of candy making," and made no reference to his profession as a dentist.

There are also claims that Morrison was not the sole inventor of cotton candy. Some reports suggest that other candy makers were experimenting with sugar spinning around the same time, and that Morrison may have simply improved upon their methods.


In conclusion, while it is true that a dentist named William Morrison obtained a patent for a candy making machine that could produce cotton candy, there is no conclusive evidence that he was the sole inventor of the treat. The claim that cotton candy was invented by a dentist is based on some evidence, but it also has some inconsistencies and contradictions. Ultimately, the exact origins of cotton candy may remain a mystery, but one thing is for sure - it's still a delicious treat enjoyed by millions around the world.

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The Counter Arguments

Despite William Morrison and John C. Wharton's claim as the inventors of cotton candy, many historians have identified other potential creators who dispute the myth that a dentist invented cotton candy. This section will examine some of these alternative theories.

Disputing the Claim

Although Morrison and Wharton were granted a patent for the cotton candy machine in 1899, they were not the only inventors exploring the possibility of spinning sugar. In 1880, Thomas Patton invented a device that spun sugar filaments that were then collected to form a bird's nest. Some believe that this invention may have been the precursor to cotton candy.

Josef Delarose Lascaux, a confectioner in New Orleans, also claimed to have invented a similar product called "fairy floss" in 1921. Like Morrison and Wharton, he used a machine to spin sugar, but he chose to market his creation as a luxury item. In this version of events, it was only after Morrison and Wharton's patent expired in 1921 that cotton candy became widely available.

The Timeline

In tracing the timeline of cotton candy's development, one can see that the history is not as straightforward as Morrison and Wharton's claim. The origins of cotton candy can be traced back to Europe in the 19th century, where it was marketed as "spun sugar." At fairs and exhibitions, street vendors would spin sugar filaments around a fork or stick, creating a treat that was popular across the continent.

In the United States, cotton candy's popularity rose quickly, with the first mention of the treat in official records appearing at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Morrison and Wharton began selling their cotton candy under the name "Fairy Floss" in 1904, but they did not receive their patent until five years later.

The Conclusion

Despite the myth that a dentist invented cotton candy, the true origins of this deliciously sugary treat are more complex. While Morrison and Wharton may have been the first to patent a specific type of cotton candy machine, others before them had already experimented with spinning sugar. Additionally, European street vendors had been creating a similar product for decades.

Yet, the myth persists today, perhaps in part due to the novelty of a dentist inventing a candy. The idea that a dentist, who is often thought of as a figure who restricts sweets, created a treat that is so beloved is amusing and unexpected. Nonetheless, the truth is more nuanced, and it is important to recognize multiple potential inventors and the rich history of cotton candy.

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