What a way to end the month! Cotton candy feels so much like summer: it’s synonymous with fairs and carnivals and getting sticky everywhere 😛 Cotton candy actually became popularized as a sugary treat at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, and was first mass-produced and marketed by a dentist! Didn’t think that you’d ever see a dentist endorsing cotton candy, did you? I mean, it’s mostly sugar–and by “mostly,” I mean that’s the only other ingredient in cotton candy, other than air. Cotton candy is sugar that’s poured into a special spinning bowl, and with the use of heat and centrifugal force, the sugar particles are melted and pulled through the mechanism, making long, fluffy strands of sugar. All you have to do then is collect the strands as they accumulate in the bowl–thus spinning the cotton candy around a stick until you get the fluffy, bee-hive-like treat kids love to eat 😀
I’ll admit I’ve never been a huge cotton candy fan. I always see it at sporting events or at a carnival and think, wow! Hand-spun cotton candy! I’d love to have some! And then I buy it, pull a piece between my fingers or try to catch a miniscule amount on my tongue, and realize it’s not cotton candy: it’s a sticky sugary death trap. Sugar everywhere! And I never finish it, because 75% of the way into the candy I’m sick of all the sugar, but I can’t put it down because it’s freakin cotton candy and you either finish the whole thing or just throw it out; there is no pause button on cotton candy.
Nowadays I get my sugar jollies elsewhere when I’m at a carnival (um, funnel cakes, anyone?), but if I really, really get a hankering for cotton candy, I know where to get it. And it’s not at any carnival or street fair anywhere in the city: it’s at the Four Seasons. You heard me right! The classicly swanky restaurant and birthplace of the power lunch has a badly-kept secret: one of the most popular off-menu items is cotton candy. Gail Simmons, host of Top Chef: Just Desserts, revealed this secret on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and the word’s definitely been getting out. For that special occasion, you can have your dinner at Four Seasons, and order a plate of hand-spun, fluffy white or pink cotton candy as your dessert. It’s actually not that great of a secret, anyway: when one person in the restaurant orders it, the buzz inevitably gets around to the other tables, and soon you see a ton of high-class people eating at the Four Seasons with mounds of cotton candy on their plates! Only in New York could we make cotton candy couture 😉
The Four Seasons Restaurant
99 E 52nd St (between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
“The birthday surprise was a mound of white cotton candy that looked like a wig worn by Marie Antoinette with a single lit candle on top. Underneath was a scoop of strawberry ice cream. They packed up the cotton candy in a glossy Four Seasons shopping bag that we will proudly reuse on another day.”–New York Food And Wine
“The Four Seasons Restaurant will create cotton candy for birthdays (top, right) and other special occasions upon request ($10). Enjoying cotton candy on Cotton Candy Day is obviously one such instance— just make sure to call ahead.”–Always Hungry NY
“Signature dishes like the crisp-skinned duck, carved tableside, and delicate quenelles of Maryland crab haven’t lost their luster, but the song and dance of starched-white waiters spouting canned New York-isms can make even the most hardened Manhattanite feel like a tourist. Freebies, like great hives of bubblegum-pink cotton candy, soften the economic blow; it’s worth the expense, if only to see the show.”–Time Out New York
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“We all had such a good time and when dessert came, the staff looked after us not only with a selection of treats on the house, but cotton candy poofs as tall as a barn! I was in serious heaven – and covered head to toe with the stuff by the end. Try explaining that to your dry cleaner.”–Chantelle K.
“The cotton candy sealed the whole deal for me. Not like the whole amazing room and meal didn’t, but this was just so awesome. Such an upscale, fancy place and they hand over the ultimate finger food, cotton candy? I loved it, what a whimsical touch to an elegant experience.”–Lauren B.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!