The 10 Best Cotton Candy Machines

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This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Add a sweet touch to your next school or church event, or spoil the kids with an old-fashioned treat at home with one of these fun cotton candy machines. Our list includes options intended both for personal and commercial use, and they are ranked by price, durability, and speed of production. For safety’s sake, follow the directions carefully and supervise children at all times during use. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Vivo Electric

2. Olde Midway Rolling

3. Clevr Commercial

Editor's Notes

November 25, 2020:

We've made several changes, starting with the replacement of three models with updated versions: the Nostalgia Vintage, the Nostalgia Retro Aqua, and the Carnus CN1000-S. Each one is a countertop design that works well for small batches and family fun. We've also replaced the Candery Homemade with the Candery Bright; it's the same machine with a smaller assortment of sugar flavors that is a much better value. You're better off buying sugars separately in terms of price, and so that you can get exactly the flavors that you want.

For machines on wheels, the Olde Midway Rolling replaces the very similar FunTime Candy Cloud because the former is less expensive and rated higher by reviewers. We've also removed the Yescom Carnival for poor ratings and added two newcomers that rate well: the Suncoo Nurxiovo and the bubble-top Vbenlem Electric.

Finally, we've updated the information for several items, including the Clevr Commercial, the Vivo Electric, and the Paragon Spin Magic.

June 12, 2019:

Joining our selection in this update is the Candery Homemade, which is simple to operate when you heat it up, add sugar, and twirl a cone above it for carnival-style goodness. It comes with strawberry, blue raspberry, vanilla pink, cherry, and grape flavored sugar, as well as a handy plastic scoop. It’s a convenient, budget-friendly selection, but note that it can operate rather loudly. It’s created with safety in mind, with a durable bowl with a transparent dome top, as well as a sturdy stainless steel base.

Another newly added model is the Carnus Family Package, which is easy to use, clean, and store, and it comes with three sugar flavors (pink vanilla, grape, and blue raspberry) as well as 50 paper cones. Each six-ounce, resealable pouch produces around 12 servings. While this selection also won’t break the bank, note that it operates on the slow side, which is good to know if you’re planning to use it at a party while surrounded by a crowd of excited kids. It’s backed by a one-year warranty.

Sadly, the Cotton Candy Express kit leaves the selection, due to issues with availability. Also gone is the Great Northern Popcorn Company Vortex, due to duplication with another selection on the list.

Whichever model you ultimately choose, for safety’s sake, follow the directions in the user manual carefully, as there are moving parts and these machines get hot. Be sure to keep your hands and face clear of the floss head, and heed any other warnings that come with your product. Always supervise children when they're around these, without ever leaving them unattended.

Special Honors

Gold Medal Deluxe Whirlwind If you’re in the market for a high-volume machine, this commercial-grade one can produce six to seven servings per minute. It’s great for concessions, arenas, and amusement parks, with its 1/3 horsepower motor with sealed ball bearings. Its spacer allows for increased sugar capacity in the spinner head, as well as for more air to be whipped into your finished product.

4. Nostalgia Vintage

5. Paragon Spin Magic

6. Carnus CN1000-S

7. Candery Bright

This item has been flagged for editorial review and is not available.

8. Suncoo Nurxiovo

9. Nostalgia Retro Aqua

10. Vbenlem Electric

Nostalgia At Its Sweetest

The majority of cotton candy machines in use today feature a spinning head that encloses a small reserve bowl meant for pouring granulated sugar and food coloring.

Everyone who's ever been a kid remembers a time in their life when candy was almost considered a religion. Recall those days from childhood when you used to save up your weekly allowance money to go to the nearest drug store or candy shop and load up on all those delicious confections. Now, consider those times when you used to go to carnivals, the circus, or amusement parks. Perhaps you still go to these places today with your own kids.

One of the quintessential parts of your experience at these locations is the food, which consists of all types of sweet and fried goodies that you wouldn't typically eat on a daily basis. One of these sweet indulgences was most likely a big ball of cotton candy. If you've ever wondered where it comes from, how it's prepared, and how to reap the sweet benefits of the treat from home, then look no further.

Also referred to as fairy floss, cotton candy is a special form of spun sugar. It is crafted through a process of heating, liquefying, and spinning granulated (and often colored) sugar into very thin strands. These strands are referred to as sugar glass. The resulting ball of cotton candy is made mostly of air, the sugar strands, and weighs around one ounce per serving. Cotton candy is usually sold at fairs, carnivals, and even at Japanese festivals. It's typically placed on rolled-up paper or some type of plastic stick. In many cases, food coloring and flavoring are used to give the cotton candy a kick.

The majority of cotton candy machines in use today feature a spinning head that encloses a small reserve bowl meant for pouring granulated sugar and food coloring. Built-in heaters near the spinning head's rim then melt the sugar. Thanks to the use of the machine's centrifugal force, the molten sugar is then squeezed out of tiny holes where it solidifies in the air before falling into a larger bowl that surrounds the spinning head. As this process continues to happen for an extended period of time, the spun sugar continues to collect inside the large bowl. The machine operator then winds the spun sugar from the rim of the bowl around a paper cone or stick for distribution.

Today, single servings of cotton candy can even be sold through vending machines. The majority of cotton candy machines available today range from tabletop size in the home to the large, commercial-size machines that hold up to three pounds of sugar with compartments for storing a variety of different flavors.

A Brief History Of The Cotton Candy Machine

Believe it or not, the first electrical cotton candy machine was invented in 1897 by dentist William Morrison in cooperation with confectioner John C. Wharton. Yes, you read that humorous sense of irony correctly. One of the inventors of the cotton candy machine was actually a dentist. Together, Morrison and Wharton introduced the machine to a large audience at the 1904 World's Fair and referred to the confection as fairy floss. This cotton candy machine melted sugar and also leveraged forced air to push the sugar through a wire screen.

All of this changed in 1972 when the first automatic cotton candy machine was patented.

In the year 1900, Thomas Patton received a separate patent for developing a machine that formed long threads of caramelized sugar that could be wound around a fork.

If the astonishment of one dentist inventing a cotton candy machine wasn't enough, consider that Joseph Lascaux, a Louisiana dentist, invented a similar machine in 1921 and was responsible for patenting the product under the cotton candy label. In 1949, Gold Medal Products of Cincinnati, Ohio introduced a cotton candy machine that featured a spring base, which significantly improved the production of the confection. Today, the company still produces a majority of cotton candy machines on the market.

Up until the 1970s, cotton candy machine automation wasn't very common, so the lack of ability to produce it in mass quantities for wide distribution kept its production scale rather small. All of this changed in 1972 when the first automatic cotton candy machine was patented.

Today, cotton candy is not only produced quickly, but is also available in many different flavors that include banana, raspberry, vanilla, watermelon, and chocolate using both natural and artificial flavorings.

Consider Your Options

Whether you own a small business or your kids just happen to love the occasional treat of cotton candy at home, there are plenty of available machines to suit virtually any need. However, several factors should be taken into account.

The ability to control and adjust the temperature is also a helpful feature for any cotton candy machine, as this helps to ensure that the mixture comes out just right.

Power, speed, and durability of the machine's motor and heating elements are all important, particularly if you plan to use the machine often with your small business or when planning a birthday party with a lot of kids. One must also be sure that the included bowl has a capacity large enough to accommodate several servings at a time.

Some cotton candy machines also include their own carts and built-in cash drawers, both of which come in handy when transporting the machine to different locations to sell your confections on the street or at fairs and events.

Additionally, having a mechanism that makes it easy to detach the cotton candy bowl is important for cleaning purposes. The ability to control and adjust the temperature is also a helpful feature for any cotton candy machine, as this helps to ensure that the mixture comes out just right.

Shilo Urban
Last updated by Shilo Urban

Shilo lives for adventures in far-away lands and reads books like it’s going out of style (which it is). Dogs are her co-pilots. She’s traveled to 60 countries and has lived in Austin (where she received a BA from the University of Texas), Maine, Paris, Seattle, New Zealand, Los Angeles, and now—Fort Worth. Before becoming a freelance writer over a decade ago, she had more than three dozen jobs, including high school teacher, record label manager, tour guide, and farmhand for endangered livestock breeds. She speaks fluent French and horribly mangled Spanish, which she is working every day to improve. Shilo geeks out over history and culture, and her areas of expertise include travel, art and design, music, pets, food, crafts, toys, and home furnishings. Current obsessions: Gobekli Tepe, tassels, and fresh lemonade.

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