Candy As Black As Coal
August 25, 2009 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Is there any way to (cheaply) make black cotton candy for a festival?

I am planning a booth at a festival for a non-profit organization working on energy issues. We want to have black cotton candy to give away at our booth (it's supposed to represent air pollution).

We would rent a cotton candy machine from a vendor. These vendors seem to offer many colors/flavors of sugarfloss to feed into the machine, but, not surprisingly, none of these come in black. I've never made cotton candy before, so I don't really know what the process is - could we somehow dye the sugarfloss black? Or is there a company that makes black cotton candy?
posted by wholebroad to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
I have made it a few times for college fairs and what not. The sugar comes pre-colored/flavored which gets put into the machine where it is heated and spun. As a result, the color comes out much lighter then the sugar originally looked. ie. Dark purple sugar gives you light purple cotton candy. I guess you could get black sugar, though I don't imagine its a off the shelf product for most companies (though I could be wrong) and it would likely end up being a more gray then dark black.
posted by Captain_Science at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2009

I suspect that you're only going to be able to get a dirty gray, which should be fine in terms of looking pollution. I think you can add any color food coloring, but black will mix with the white sugar and the flossy surface area to make gray.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:51 PM on August 25, 2009

Black powdered food coloring? I have never done this, I will admit.
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:53 PM on August 25, 2009

If you mixed the standard colors of blue, pink, and yellow, I bet you would get something that looked like pollution.
posted by smackfu at 12:53 PM on August 25, 2009

Sesame seeds are black. Don't know how cotton candy flavors work, but if you could mix in some sesame bean powder or paste (from an Asian food store) you might get black...?
posted by archofatlas at 12:56 PM on August 25, 2009

if you mixed the colours together you could probably get an icky brown/grey. particularly, a warm colour like pink or orange mixed with green. or maybe you can add some green food colouring. brown would look like pollution.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:56 PM on August 25, 2009

Could you try food color spray?
posted by thejanna at 1:03 PM on August 25, 2009

Even if you were successful at coloring the floss black, the color would be so concentrated it would stain everything it touched. Kinda fun, but the liability would suck.

Consider the grayish color, to mimic smoke. Much easier to accomplish than black with a basic primary food color mix.
posted by artdrectr at 1:05 PM on August 25, 2009

Is cotton candy sugar different from regular sugar? You can get black sugar at cake decorating places that should spin up grey for you?
posted by legotech at 1:27 PM on August 25, 2009

I'd suggest using Wilton food dyes; they are a very thick paste, but I have had luck adding a tiny amount to a cup or so of sugar (icing or white), stirring well until it is mixed into the sugar, then adding that sugar to the larger portion you are going to be using (too hard to mix it evenly into a large quantity). You probably won't be using enough of the coloring for it to alter the taste at all. A smoggy brown or grey would be very easy to do.

Perhaps you could make the main color a sky blue, then swirl the black on top? I've seen cotton candy spun in two colors so that is also a possibility.
posted by variella at 3:14 PM on August 25, 2009

White sugar + black food color spray = darkened, polluted clouds.

Also, you could try white + green.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:31 PM on August 25, 2009

Those of you suggesting food color spray must not have had cotton candy in a long time. It melts if you lick it or otherwise get it wet.

I suggest going for a smoggy color. Fluffed up, it will never be black even if you use sugar that is colored black. Besides that, lots of food color gives things an unpleasant chemical flavor. Which will also suggest pollution, but I'm not sure if that is what you are going for.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:13 PM on August 25, 2009

Thanks for all the answers. We were kind of fixated on black just cause it seemed like it would be so cool to have black cotton candy, but a muddy grey would be just as evocative.
posted by lunasol at 11:27 PM on August 25, 2009

Oh, my, I seem to have outed my sockpuppet. Well...this is awkward!
posted by lunasol at 11:29 PM on August 25, 2009

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