cotton candy flavors

Flavor of the Month

Consumers Celebrate Summer with Cotton Candy Flavors

Did you know cotton candy was invented by a dentist? Explore the history of this beloved childhood treat and see how manufacturers are using the fun flavor of cotton candy to add nostalgic indulgence to their products.

Cotton Candy Flavors Trending

The recent buzz around cotton candy flavors is proving that cotton candy isn’t just for kids anymore. Creative chefs are embracing childhood-inspired flavors (particularly for bakery and dairy desserts) to bring a smile to their customers’ faces. We saw this with cookie dough and then with cereal milk. Now, cotton candy is finding its way into desserts in the trendiest restaurants.

The appeal of cotton candy flavors has not been lost on the packaged foods industry. Products with fun, nostalgic flavors like cotton candy get noticed. The positive associations consumers have with these types of flavors can create an emotional connection that makes consumers more likely to try that product.

The use of cotton candy flavors continues to expand in packaged foods and beverages, beyond the dessert applications driven by the food service industry. 

Flavor options are also expanding. Now, manufacturers can choose from cotton candy flavors other than traditional pink vanilla and blue raspberry, such as grape and strawberry.

Cotton Candy Flavors 1

Cotton Candy: An All-American Flavor

While chefs throughout history have capitalized on the unique melting properties of sugar to make spun sugar, it wasn’t until the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis that cotton candy hit the scene. A dentist named Dr. William Morrison collaborated with confectioner John Warton to create a soft and fluffy spun sugar confection they called “fairy floss.” 

The key to creating this new product was the development of a new machine—a spinning bowl with tiny holes that pulled the melted sugar into long, wispy threads. Today, the cotton candy machine is a must-have at amusement parks, carnivals, fairs, movie theaters, and increasingly, restaurants!

How Cotton Candy Flavors Are Being Used Today

In the food service industry, some restaurants have added cotton candy to their dessert menus, where it might be available in different flavors or shaped into whimsical sculptures. Other restaurants are providing cotton candy to all diners as a complimentary dessert. Restaurants are also using their cotton candy machines to make cotton candy toppings for desserts and cocktails.

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For cotton candy-flavored products, sweet baked goods such as cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and donuts are a popular choice among restaurants, especially as they can be quickly topped with cotton candy-flavored frostings or glazes. Other applications include frozen dairy or plant-based desserts (like ice cream and frozen yogurt) and milkshakes, which all pair well with cotton candy flavors.

In the packaged foods industry, cotton candy flavors are doing well in a wide variety of products, including:

  • Breakfast cereal
  • Popcorn
  • Candy
  • Chewing gum
  • Ice cream
  • Popsicles
  • Yogurt drinks
  • Soft drinks
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Smoothie mixes
  • Nutrition powders

The emergence of cotton candy flavors in sports nutrition powders is of particular interest since it lends some excitement to a category that tends to rely on traditional chocolate, vanilla, and fruit flavors. Cotton candy flavors have the potential to expand further in the sports nutrition category (for example, into protein bars), the way birthday cake and cookie dough flavors did. Fun, nostalgic flavors in sports nutrition products also offer consumers permissible indulgence—and reframe the product as a workout treat.

Give Consumers the Flavor They Love

For repeat purchases, it’s important that a product’s flavor lives up to consumers’ expectations, especially if it's a flavor they know well. Working with an experienced flavor team to create a memorable taste is the key to success. 

When flavoring a high protein product (as is common in sports nutrition), using a protein flavor masker to ensure the best tasting protein before adding the cotton candy flavor can help produce a clean flavor. Certain botanicals, vitamins, and minerals may also call for masking to create a neutral base that will allow the cotton candy flavor to shine through.

Custom flavors can even be developed that include both a natural masker and a cotton candy flavor. Glanbia Nutritionals has excellent customized flavor solutions to match any flavor as well as expertise in masking the off-notes for proteins, plant-based ingredients, vitamins, minerals, and more. Collaborate with us to meet the flavor trends of today! 

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