Today, at the elementary school, they had the “fall festival.” Part neighborhood meetup and part PTA fundraiser, they had all the sorts of things you find at events like this: ring tosses, raffles, a silent auction (whoever had put together the auction had done a very good job; the items actually seemed worth their estimated value). And soda, and popcorn. No sno-cones, since it is mid-October, and even in California it’s too nippy for sno-cones. And cotton candy.
None of that stuff that you see at some school events, which is sold in prebagged clumps, oh no: a real spinning machine, churning out pink puffiness that looked like it belonged in a Barbie Dollhouse somewhere. That pre-bagged stuff is stale; for although cotton candy never really goes bad — how could it? it’s nothing but sugar — it does go flat. Bleah. Then it is good for nothing but as part of gingerbread house displays come Christmas.
Pink, by the way, is a flavor. There are three flavors of cotton candy, generally speaking: pink, blue, and purple.* And as those colors don’t map to any flavor known to man other than “sweet, with some vague unidentifiable overtone that makes it different from the other colors,” it just makes sense to refer the flavor as “pink.”
The girl who made my stick was an amateur, meaning the strands were woven so loosely that the clump was incredibly light and airy — a sugar cloud. (More experienced hands make a slightly denser product, simply so you actually get something for your fifty cents.) That was okay, it was delightful.
Adults eat their cotton candy with their hands, tearing off dainty bits and placing them on their tongues so they don’t get large smeary sticky streaks across their face. Instead, you get hands that would do Fred Biletnikoff proud. I decided just to eat mine like a child. It melted away, leaving me with a sticky face and a big smile, just like when I was ten.
Best fifty cents I’ve spent in a very long time.
*I have seen, on occasion, bizarre flavors such as “pina colada,” but they are an abomination.