The Secrets to Keeping Cotton Candy Fresh and Fluffy

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My daughters are in the thick of Science Fair Season.  And I love science fair season.  I did some pretty darn kick-ass science fair projects on the antibacterial properties of common hardy Ohio woodland plants in my day.  My parents are both scientists.  And so as my children explore the scientific method, I found myself nostalgic, and decided to do my own experiment.  I wanted to know the best way to keep cotton candy fresh and fluffy for the longest time for parties.


What is the Best Way to Extend the Durability of Cotton Candy for a Party and Keep it Fluffy?

Four bags of pink cotton candy on a white weathered wood backdrop.  Two bags tied with baker's twine, the other two are ziplock bags.

Keeping Cotton Candy Fluffy Hypothesis:  

  • The cotton candy sealed in Ziploc bags, and with desiccant packets inserted in the package, will remain fresh and fluffy the longest.  The cotton candy in the cellophane bags, shut simply with a tied length of baker's twine, will not keep out moisture adequately and will shrivel and lose shape faster.

I'm always looking for things I can do ahead of time for a party.  The fewer last-minute things that are absolutely necessary, the better!  

Four clear plastic bags, desiccant packets taped inside two of them.

Materials for Cotton Candy Longevity Experiment:


I made a single batch of cotton candy using my cotton candy machine and cotton candy sugar.  I divided the cotton candy between four bags: one cellophane, tied bag; one cellophane, tied bag with a desiccant packet; one ziploc bag; one ziploc bag with a desiccant packet.


Cotton Candy Experiment Conclusion:  

I was quite stunned at how well the cotton candy survived with any level of protection from the elements.    Granted, I live in Phoenix, which is pretty much the best (driest) place for cotton candy ever.  Still, even I have experienced cotton candy withering, shrinking, dissolving in upon itself within hours of having made it (when unprotected at all).  

My hypothesis was incorrect.  The only cotton candy to show ANY signs of shrinkage after four days was the (allegedly airtight) Ziploc bag with no desiccant package.  

I am, quite frankly, utterly delighted by the fact that I can make bags of cotton candy favors with the cuter (cellophane bag, tied) packaging at least four days ahead of the party without worrying about the cotton candy shrinking and looking sad and miserable.  The desiccant pack did not make an observable difference in the four days the samples were tested with the cellophane bags, though they did make a slight difference in the fluffiness of the cotton candy in the Ziploc bags.  I expected the Ziploc bags to be more airtight than the tied cellophane bags, and thus to be less susceptible to shrinkage due to atmospheric moisture.

I submit to you, my dear readers, the evidence of the scientific method:  you can use cuter packaging than Ziploc bags, and make the cotton candy favors or treats at least four days ahead of the party without ill effects if you live in an arid climate.  I should be very interested in learning the results of the experiment conducted in a more humid climate.  (Frog Prince Paperie in Florida, I'm officially challenging you to a scientific humidity duel)

Navigational image directing reader to cotton candy filled ice cream cone favors in patriotic colors.

Nicole Wills, creator of Tikkido

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