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The Sweet and Sticky History of Cotton Candy

Pink clouds of sugar wrapped around a cardboard cone; a familiar childhood memory for many who spent time at the beach strolling the boardwalk or enjoying time at the county fair. Cotton candy has been the subject of poems and in the title of books like, Nikki Giovanni’s Cotton candy on a Rainy Day, a metaphor for the yummy things we love, that disappear so quickly. Its’ a simple concoction, an easy recipe, that brings so much joy and smiles to the eyes of kids and adults; yet, it is one of the few food items we rarely, if ever, attempt to make at home. Cotton candy is magic. That is why we love it so much.

Cotton candy, one of the most popular concession stand items, is deliciously flavored spun sugar, called “candy floss” in Europe and the UK. It is best known in the United States and Canada, as cotton candy and its bubble gum colors come from the use of food coloring. Over the years, this sweetest of the sweets, has come in many flavors, from strawberry and watermelon to more recent exotic flavors like mango and pink lemonade. Many times the flavors of cotton candy reflects the culture and environment of those who make it; for example in Canada, maple flavored cotton candy is a very popular flavor.

The making of cotton candy dates back to the 16th century and was considered somewhat of a luxury because of the expensive process it took to make the confection. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that cotton candy was spun on a machine. This made the process much less labor intensive and cheaper to create, making it a treat that became available to the everyday person. Ironically, it was a dentist by

the name of William Morrison who partnered with confectioner John C. Wharton, who invented machine-spun cotton candy; hence the name, ‘candy floss” or “Fairy Floss”, which it was called at the 1904 World’s Fair.

In more recent times, in 1921, another dentist, Joseph Lascaux, from New Orleans, Louisiana, updated the machine that is now used to make this magical airy treat and officially named it “cotton candy”. In the 70’s this same machine was updated and automated again so that it now creates and also packages the cotton candy product.

In spite of cotton candy’s somewhat complex history, this very simply made, sweet and sticky treat is still creating sparkles in the eyes of every child at birthday parties, carnivals and fairs today; and in more exotic flavors than ever imagined. Cotton candy is still making fans after all these years.

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Popcorn Facts and Information For National Popcorn Day

This past Saturday, people initially celebrated National Popcorn Day. Since the origins are debatable, you may not have missed it. According to popcorn.org, “National Popcorn Day is celebrated at the end of January, although its exact date is a matter of debate. Various sources report it as January 19; others claim it takes place on whatever day the Super Bowl falls on.”

We’ve eaten popcorn for a long time, probably as long as we can remember.  Because the snack has existed for so long, the consumption and facts about the snack are widespread.  Here are a few of the popcorn facts collected on popcorn.org.

-Americans consume some 16 billion quarts of this whole grain, good-for-you treat. That’s 51 quarts per man, woman, and child.

-Compared to most snack foods, popcorn is low in calories. Air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per cup. Oil-popped is only 55 per cup.

-Popcorn differs from other types of maize/corn in that is has a thicker pericarp/hull. The hull allows pressure from the heated water to build and eventually bursts open. The inside starch becomes gelatinous while being heated; when the hull bursts, the gelatinized starch spills out and cools, giving it its familiar popcorn shape.

-The peak period for popcorn sales for home consumption is in the fall.

-Most popcorn comes in two basic shapes when it’s popped: snowflake and mushroom. Snowflake is used in movie theaters and ballparks because it looks and pops bigger. Mushroom is used for candy confections because it doesn’t crumble.

-If you made a trail of popcorn from New York City to Los Angeles, you would need more than 352,028,160 popped kernels!

Celebrate National Popcorn Day at home, at a movie theater or anywhere you can find the snack.

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Popcorn: An Unexpected Source of Antioxidants

With healthy living being all the rage these days, it is often difficult to find a snack that is not only healthy, but enjoyable as well. Well, we have some news for you. Popcorn is a healthy snack! We know that it is of popular knowledge that air popped popcorn is a low calorie snack, but did you know that there are health benefits of popcorn in general? In fact, popcorn has high levels of concentrated antioxidants, according to an article from Daily Mail.

So what exactly are antioxidants, you ask? Well, antioxidants are “substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation.” Free radicals can damage your body’s cells and can take part in causing heart disease, cancer and other diseases. (Source: Medicine Plus)

Surprisingly, research has shown that just one serving of popcorn has about 300mg of antioxidants. To put that into perspective for you, a serving of fruit contains about 160mg of antioxidants. I know what you are thinking, and no, we cannot replace fruits and veggies for popcorn, although that would be delicious!

Unfortunately, popcorn does not contain the necessary vitamins and mineral our bodies need. For now, we will have to settle with popcorn as the perfect snack option. Not bad if you ask me!

*Image Courtesy of bour3

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Sno Cones vs. Shaved Ice

So what’s it going to be, a sno cone or shaved ice? While you may think these are one in the same, you are sadly mistaken. Contrary to popular belief, there are some differences between a sno cone and shaved ice. However, whichever variation of flavored ice you chose you are sure to enjoy this refreshing treat, any time of year.

The Differences:

• A sno cone is a ball of ice granular, flavored with one or many sweet syrups
• Shaved ice is a lighter, fluffy version of a sno cone, also flavored by syrup
• Shaved ice holds the flavoring better than a sno cone due to its texture

If you are throwing a party, whether it is in the summer or winter, a sno cone or shaved ice machine is sure to make a lasting impression with your guests. Unlike a boring old cake or the overdone build your own sundae station; give your guests something to talk about during and after the party.

Great for parties, carnivals and concession stands alike, sno cones and shaved ice machines are a great addition to any event! If you are throwing a party in Florida, be sure to contact us, Miracle Strip Popcorn, for more information about our party rentals and supplies!

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The History Of Popcorn At Movies

Today, movies and popcorn go hand in hand.  Every major theater in the United States offers popcorn to patrons and theater goers.  More home theaters are being built, and more people are putting in large, high quality TVs in their homes to watch movies and sporting events. The amount of movies you can watch in your home continues to expand and people prefer the comforts of their own home. However, you don’t want to lose their movie going experience and a popcorn machine inside your home can preserve that.

The history of popcorn and movies dates back to the introduction of movie theaters in American culture. In the mid-1800s, popcorn was introduced to the public at fairs, carnivals and rallies. After the first portable popcorn machine was invented, the amount of popcorn eaten went up dramatically. Eventually, as movies became more popular and theaters were built across the country, popcorn vendors saw it as a chance to make some solid money.

They’d post up outside the theaters and as movie goers would exit for intermission, they’d grab their favorite salty snack before heading inside. Movie theater owners couldn’t pass up the opportunity to cash in on the sales. Since then, popcorn has become a staple in the theater.

The days of selling popcorn outside movie theaters have passed. Bring the signature movie popcorn taste to your own home with your own popcorn machine.  You’ll have the best movie watching experience of all your friends.