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TODAY IS NATIONAL FUDGE DAY, TRY THIS DELICIOUS FUDGE RECIPE:

Let’s talk about fudge. This old-fashioned candy isn’t around much anymore, but we haven’t forgotten about it. Penny candy shops sell fudge. Chocolatiers make it still, and across New England, you can pop into little stores and find it.

The soft, sweet confection is traditionally made with butter, sugar, and dairy. Heated to the soft-ball stage, it’s beaten to a spreadable texture that firms up as it cools. While very sugary, good fudge is flavorful and creamy.

There are a few techniques for making good fudge. Today we’re going to cover the microwave method.  Microwaving fudge is quick and easy, while the traditional stovetop method is slightly more complicated (but fun to master!).

Both yield delicious results,

Fudge is a fantastic edible gift for the holidays. It’s nostalgic, sweet, and keeps well. So get out your gift list and let’s get cooking!

Recipe : Microwave Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate is the most classic version of fudge. This easy recipe is made in the microwave instead of on the stovetop, so really all you have to do is measure and stir. How’s that for instant candy gratification?

You’ll need:
2 cups chocolate chips
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stopping to stir occasionally, until the chocolate is smooth.

 

Note on microwaving chocolate: To avoid scorching the chocolate, microwave it in short bursts (30 to 45 second intervals) at half power, stopping between each interval to stir the chocolate.

 

Add the condensed milk to the chocolate and stir until smooth. The mixture will thicken slightly

 

Cut the butter into small chunks and scatter it on top of the chocolate mixture. Microwave until the butter is melted, then stir to combine.

 

Add the vanilla and stir until smooth.

 

Pour the fudge into a foil- or parchment-lined 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. You can also butter the pan instead of lining it, but if you’re planning on gifting the fudge, lining the pan makes it easier to lift the candy out neatly to slice it.

 

Let the fudge cool and firm up for several hours, or overnight. Slice, and then enjoy! Note how gorgeous and silky smooth the texture is.

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IKEA’s Ingenious Recipe Posters That You Have To Cook To Make Effortless Meals

Swedish homeware giant IKEA is known not only for the creativity of its products, but also for its marketing. IKEA Canada recently worked with ad agency Leo Burnett, Toronto to demonstrate this.

The campaign, titled ‘IKEA: Cook This Paper’, is designed to show people that “getting creative in the kitchen can be deliciously simple”—to do so, IKEA has created a series of brilliant recipe posters that are printed with food safe ink on parchment cooking paper.

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Each recipe poster features illustrations of the ingredients needed to make that particular meal. To prepare the dish, simply place the ingredients—including seasonings and sauces—over their drawings on the poster.

When the ingredients have all been neatly laid out, all you have to do is to roll them up in the parchment recipe poster, and cook the entire package.

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Needless to say, all of the ingredients and kitchen utensils used in these clever recipes can be purchased at IKEA.

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Mindful eating: ‘Suddenly, you have power over food’

It happened by accident.

Kathryn Hutchinson, a 52-year-old retired teacher, was accompanying her father to a doctor’s appointment last year when his doctor recommended that Hutchinson make an appointment of her own.
Hutchinson was diagnosed with prediabetes at the time and was obese, with severe arthritis and a history of depression. Her father’s doctor knew an endocrinologist who could help her.
“My knees were killing me. I’ve already had my hips replaced. It was horrible, and that’s when he said, ‘You know what, there’s a person you need to talk to,’ ” Hutchinson said.
Her father’s doctor proceeded to escort her down the hallway to meet the endocrinologist.
Hutchinson said that appointment, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, changed her life. Tears filled her eyes and her voice cracked with emotion at the recollection.
“I’m starting to tear (up) a little bit only because that was the first time I saw somebody who saw me on the inside — me as a person, not my weight,” she said. “That was really my first feeling of hope that my life could be something different, that it actually could turn around and be good again.”
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On the spot, Pena enrolled Hutchinson, a Bronx resident, in the hospital’s weight loss program, called Core4. The program employs the unconventional approach of “mindful eating” to counsel participants.
Before the program, Hutchinson said, she’d never heard of mindful eating.
Now, after she learned more about the practice and applied it to her eating habits over the past six months, it has led to a healthier lifestyle.
In a meeting with her nutritionist on Monday, Hutchinson said, she learned that she now weighs 198 pounds. About six months ago, she weighed 260 pounds.
“I hugged her,” Hutchinson said of her nutritionist. “I was in tears.”

‘Over time, eating can become habitual’

Mindful eating is rooted in the idea of mindfulness, an ancient practice that promotes being aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and environment instead of living your life on autopilot.
When applied to diet, mindful eating involves focusing on chewing your food, taking your time, being in tune with when your body signals that you are hungry or full, and being aware of how your food appears, smells and tastes.
“Over time, eating can become habitual. … We don’t even check in to see if we’re hungry. It’s, ‘Oh, I’m watching a movie? It’s time for popcorn,’ ” said Dr. Judson Brewer, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and director of research for the university’s Center for Mindfulness.
“There’s that push and pull that comes with life. We either eat mindlessly, or we eat based on cravings,” he said. “Mindfulness comes in, in this way, where we can notice that push and pull. We notice the cravings, the habits … and mindfulness helps us be with those feelings to say, ‘do that’ or ‘don’t do that.’
Some experts point to Horace Fletcher’s claims in the late 1800s and early 1900s as evidence of when some mindful eating concepts emerged in the United States.
In turn-of-the-century America, the self-proclaimed nutritionist and businessman touted that prolonged chewing precluded overeating and helped reduce food intake.
Today, mindful eating concepts have been introduced in hospital programs and health care facilities across the country.

A hospital turns a spotlight on mindfulness

Lenox Hill has been using mindful eating in its Core4 weight loss program for the past five years. The program starts with patients attending 10 weekly weight loss sessions, followed by nine monthly sessions. Participants then have the option to continue monthly sessions afterward.
The program’s growing emphasis on mindful eating has allowed the practice to emerge recently as a key component to success, said Antonella Apicella, the nutritionist who counsels Hutchinson and leads the hospital’s program.
For instance, mindful eating can help mitigate fluctuations in calorie intake. Big shifts in how much you consume can promote weight gain, Apicella said.
“Having a control over your eating or practicing mindful eating gives you more of a streamlined type of eating pattern, which prevents those fluctuations from occurring,” she said. “It really is a long-term solution to achieving loss weight and weight management.”
In addition to losing weight, Hutchinson said, she is no longer prediabetic since incorporating mindful eating into her everyday life.
She spends less time isolated at home and more time doing the activities she enjoys, spending time with friends and traveling, she said.
“My summer plans? I’d like to get down to North Carolina. That’s where my family is having a reunion,” said Hutchinson, who is about halfway through the yearlong weight loss program at Lenox Hill.
Brewer, who has no relation to Lenox Hill, said that as a clinician, he thinks incorporating mindfulness into weight loss programs at hospitals could be a positive and effective approach.
As a scientist, however, he has some questions and would like to see more research data proving its effectiveness in a health care setting.

The frustrations and challenges of mindfulness

For a mindful eating program to be successful, Brewer said, participants will have to be appropriately taught how to apply mindfulness in their everyday lives, outside a hospital setting. Learning to do this can be complex.
“Teaching the nuances of mindfulness is not trivial. That’s why people have to go through years and years of training to become a certified mindfulness instructor here at the Center for Mindfulness,” Brewer said. “So with all of those caveats, the key is to be able to take something out of the hospital with you.”
For both counselors and participants, “the first thing to know is that it won’t come easy. There’s no magic bullet,” Brewer said of mindfulness. “The key here is really understanding how the process works.”
A challenge for Hutchinson has been to remain mindful when surrounded by distractions, such as in a social setting with a group of friends, she said. In those scenarios, she typically will consider beforehand what types of foods will be in the setting and then plan what she will and won’t eat.
Going to a ballgame? She will plan whether to have peanuts and Cracker Jack, but only when she is hungry.
“So the mindfulness has to go in before that, and so you plan those kinds of things,” Hutchinson said. “There are times when you’re going to say, ‘OK, I’m actually going to plan to indulge in this food.’ “
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Apicella aims to encourage her participants to be patient and in tune with themselves so that they can plan for such scenarios. She also encourages them to notice when their bodies signal that they are hungry or whether they are just eating out of habit or to be social.
After all, mindful eating can come with frustrations.
“It does take time to connect with those signals, so some participants might feel frustrated in the very beginning because they feel like they’re not able to connect,” Apicella said.
“Those signals have always existed, but we have found that many of the program’s participants have been out of tune with them. Most of them don’t think about their stomach signals — hunger and fullness,” she said. “Our program helps participants get back in tune with these vital but easily ignored signals.”
Such awareness separates mindful eating from other typical diet fads, which tend to result in yo-yo dieting, said Brewer, who developed a mindfulness eating app Eat Right Now.
Rather, he said, being more aware of your eating habits might help you restructure your brain’s response not only to food but to other triggers such as stress.
“Our system isn’t calibrated to eat excessively. It’s calibrated to stop eating when we’re full. That’s how it works, and actually, it’s not set up to eat when we’re stressed-out,” Brewer said.
“When we’re stressed, the typical, the normal physiological response is … eating less,” he said. “If we’re running from the proverbial saber-toothed tiger, that’s not the time when our brain is like, ‘You know what, you should grab a cupcake as you go.’ It’s amazing how we’ve completely overwritten our normal physiological responses.”
For Hutchinson, she plans to continue practicing mindful eating. Her goal was to weigh less than 200 pounds in time for her birthday in July, to plan more travels and to find pleasure in healthy eating. On Monday, she reached that goal.
“I could never have imagined it would be anything like this,” she said. “Suddenly, you have power over food.”
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Trump’s FDA just took another swipe at Michelle Obama’s food legacy

After sustained lobbying from the packaged food and beverage industry,the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday an indefinite delay in the launch of Nutrition Fact labels that were intended to help Americans eat more healthfully.

The labels, championed by former first lady Michelle Obama, were supposed to add a special line for “added sugars” and emphasize calorie content in large, bold text. They had been scheduled for rollout in July 2018, with a one-year extension for smaller manufacturers.

The delay is the latest reversal of the Obama administration’s nutrition reforms under Trump. On April 27, the FDA also delayed rules that would have required calorie counts on restaurant menus. A week later, the Department of Agriculture loosened the minimum requirements for the amount of whole grain in school lunches and delayed future sodium reductions.

Consumer groups are already slamming the Nutrition Facts delay as an attack on public health. The largest groups in the food industry, meanwhile, is celebrating what it calls a win for “common-sense” regulation.

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But there may be another wrinkle here: As in the case of the menu-labeling delay, some companies have already adapted to the new rules — and they may be hurt if their competitors get more time to make the change.

“The ability of the Trump administration to repeat its mistakes is breathtaking,” said Jim O’Hara, the director of health promotion policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Just like with the menu-labeling delay, this administration is denying consumers critical information they need to make decisions, and it’s throwing the food industry into disarray.”

The debate over the Nutrition Facts deadline has exposed some interesting schisms in industry. While a number of large trade groups asked the FDA to delay implementation by three years — citing concerns about the cost of the labels, the lack of coordination between new label rules at FDA and USDA, and a lack of clarity around some requirements — others embraced the new panels, even printing them before they were required.

Among the early adopters are Nabisco/Mondelez, which has rolled the labels out on its Wheat Thins crackers; PepsiCo, which has put them on Lay’s chips, Fritos and Cheetos; and KIND, which makes granola bars.

Meanwhile, Mars Inc. — the maker of Uncle Ben’s rice, as well as dozens of candy brands — has vocally lobbied the FDA to stick to the original July 2018 deadline, citing consumers’ need for more health information.

Brad Figel, vice president of public affairs for Mars in North America, said the company had been devoting employees and resources to the new labels since they were finalized in 2016. Many other large food companies have also begun designing and printing the labels, anticipating a 2018 deadline.

Mars executives are concerned that the existence of two labels in the market will confuse consumers.

“We support this because we believing in giving consumers more transparency,” Figel said. “The fact that we’ll have the added sugar declaration and the percent daily value, but our competitors won’t? That just ends up confusing consumers.”

That scenario is already beginning to play out in restaurants and grocery stores, where companies who scrambled to get calorie counts on their menus suddenly found themselves, as of late April, competing with chains who had done no such thing.

California Pizza Kitchen has, for instance, already printed menus with nutritional information listed next to the price, according to Politico. At Pizza Hut, a competitor, calories are only labeled in a select number of stores.

“It doesn’t help consumers,” said O’Hara, of CSPI. “And ultimately it doesn’t help industry, either.”

Notably, this issue is not unknown to the FDA; in a May 24 letter, Stephen Ostroff, the deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, wrote that he was “pleased to see that some products in the marketplace already bear the new label.”

But in its updated guidance to industry, the agency appeared to side with food industry groups that argued implementation by July 2018 was impossible.

“After careful consideration,” the agency said, “the FDA determined that additional time would provide manufacturers covered by the rule with necessary guidance from FDA, and would help them be able to complete and print updated nutrition facts panels.”

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Nearly 2.5 Million Pounds of Tyson Chicken Products Recalled

Nearly 2.5 million pounds of ready-to-eat breaded chicken products are being recalled by Tyson Foods due to misbranding and undeclared allergens.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on Friday that the products could contain milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on its label. The recall affects items packaged between Aug. 17, 2016 and Jan.14, 2017.

The products subject to the recall have the number P-1325 in its USDA mark of inspection; there have been no confirmed reports of reactions to the consumption of the products. According to the USDA, the products involved in the recall includes:

  • 31.86-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, WHOLE GRAIN STRIP-SHAPED CHICKEN PATTIE FRITTERS-CN” with case code 003859-0928
  • 31.05-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, WHOLE GRAIN CHICKEN PATTIE FRITTERS-CN” with case code 003857-0928
  • 30.6-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, WHOLE GRAIN BREADED CHICKEN PATTIES-CN” with case code 016477-0928
  • 30.6-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, WHOLE GRAIN CHUNK-SHAPED BREADED CHICKEN PATTIES-CN” with case code 016478-0928
  • 20.0-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, BREADED CHICKEN PATTIES-CN” with case code 005778-0928
  • 32.81-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, WHOLE GRAIN GOLDEN CRISPY CHICKEN CHUNK FRITTERS-CN CHUNK-SHAPED CHICKEN PATTIE FRITTERS” with case code 070364-0928
  • 20-lb bulk cases of “SPARE TIME, Fully Cooked Breaded Chicken Patties” with case code 005778-086116.
  • 20-lb bulk cases of “SPARE TIME, Fully Cooked Chicken Pattie Fritters” with case code 016477-0861
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Kraft Heinz, eager to make a deal, may look outside food aisle for its next target

U.S. food giant Kraft Heinz, still smarting from its failed takeover bid for Europe’s Unilever, is on the prowl for its next target and more names are being mentioned as possibilities, according to a new report.

“This is not the last M&A play we are likely to see from Kraft Heinz,” said S&P Global Ratings analyst Bea Chiem. “Consequently, the most frequent questions we receive concerning the U.S. packaged food sector concern Kraft Heinz.”

In a report issued Monday, S&P said there are “attractive targets” for Kraft Heinz that include Mondelez International, General Mills, Kellogg,Campbell Soup as well as Colgate-Palmolive and Kimberly-Clark. It adds that “PepsiCo would be a stretch given its entrenched management team,” although Bernstein in a research note Monday said a “Kraft-Heinz PepsiCo tie-up might be one of the most likely.”

Bernstein’s analyst Pablo Zuanic’s report points out that 3G and Berkshire Hathaway would need to come up with around $70 billion of equity if they wanted to maintain control of the merged entity. However, a PepsiCo deal by Kraft Heinz also could present other issues for Berkshire Hathaway given it’s already a major investor in rival Coca-Cola.

Indeed, there’s been a lot of buzz in recent months on possible merger and acquisitions involving Heinz Kraft and its deep-pocketed investors. But many rumored or announced deals have fizzled.

3G, or affiliates of the buyout firm, previously have invested in companies such as Kraft Heinz, Burger King, Tim Hortons and Anheuser-Busch. The attempt to buy Unilever earlier this year came at a time when Kraft Heinz’s business was struggling with lackluster results, and that trend has continued.

“Kraft Heinz unintentionally showed its cards when its $143 billion bid for Unilever leaked to the public in February 2017,” S&P said in its report.

According to S&P, the failed Unilever bid was evidence Kraft Heinz was hungry for a large asset to boost its revenue growth as well as “revealed the company’s ambition of becoming a behemoth consumer packaged goods company run the 3G way, a lean juggernaut with ambitious cost cutting plans and zero-based budgeting.”

The zero-based budgeting is a fundamental part of 3G’s cost-reduction focus and strategy of delivering results by justifying expenses for every new budget period. This approach has caught on not just with food manufacturers tied to 3G but has been done at Campbell Soup too.

“In our opinion, Mondelez looks the most attractive among the packaged food companies and Colgate-Palmolive is the most attractive within household products and personal care,” said S&P.

Added S&P: “Regardless of who the target ultimately is, we believe Kraft Heinz is actively searching, and that any large deal would likely be capitalized with sizeable equity in order to maintain investment grade ratings.”

S&P believes Colgate-Palmolive is an especially “attractive target” to Kraft Heinz/3G because of the household and personal care products company’s “global reach and leadership in its categories.” It also pointed out that the deal would give Kraft Heinz a ramp into new categories such as home care, personal care and even pet food – all growing faster than ordinary packaged food.

At the same time, Kimberly-Clark would also provide an opportunity for Kraft Heinz to expand beyond food but S&P said “its product and brand portfolio is narrower than that of Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive. We also believe the paper and tissue categories are lower-growth, with tough competition from large rivals such as Procter & Gamble, making it difficult to drive top-line growth.”

As for Mondelez, S&P sees the global food company as particularly attractive because of its stable of “strong” brands that compete in faster-growing categories, its global reach and the ability of an acquirer to improve its lackluster margins. That said, the ratings agency believes the size and terms of a deal with Mondelez would be the “biggest hurdles” to getting a deal done.

Based on S&P’s analysis, Campbell Soup’s “snack business would be attractive” to Kraft Heinz but it believes the weakness in the flagship soup segment (almost one-third of sales) would be a turn off. Another hurdle would be Campbell’s founding family, which still controls a large chunk of the company.

Similarly, S&P believes Kellogg would be “a less probable target” in part because of the large ownership by a foundation and its presence on the board. Also, S&P said that a deal with Kellogg could be financed without much help from Berkshire Hathaway and still allow the combined entity to “maintain an investment grade rating.”

As for General Mills, S&P said it would have a much smaller deal size than Mondelez and so “would demand less debt leverage to acquire.” The weak operating performance at General Mills, however, could make a bid by Kraft Heinz more complicated and perhaps drive the price up because it might attract activist investors.

General Mills, Colgate-Palmolive and Kraft Heinz declined comment. CNBC also reached out to Mondelez, Campbell Soup, Kellogg, 3G, Berkshire Hathaway and PepsiCo.

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Recipe: Whole-Wheat Pancakes with Roasted Berries

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups mixed berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and halved strawberries
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Whipped cream and confectioners’ sugar, for topping

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the berries with 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the berries are just softened.
  2. Preheat a griddle and brush lightly with melted butter. Gently twist the bag and hold it upright. Using scissors, snip off 1/4 inch from a bottom corner. For each batch of pancakes, pipe 4-inch rounds of batter onto the griddle. Cook over moderate heat until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes, 2 to 3 minutes; flip and cook until risen and golden brown, 2 minutes longer. Transfer to plates and top with the berries, whipped cream and confectioners’ sugar.
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TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL FALAFEL DAY.

1. What is falafel made of?

Falafel is made of soaked chickpeas, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. It is served in a pita bread with hummus, Iraqi fried eggplant, french fries and anything of your choice.

2. The origin of the Falafel

There is a long going debate of where did falafel originated from. One of the theories suggests that it was invented about thousand years ago in Egypt, others say that its origin dates back to Ancient India or Pharaonic Egypt. No matter what the theories say, the fact is that falafel is one of the favourite dishes in the Middle East.

3. Falafel is high in nutrition

Falafel is high in protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Chickpeas are low in fat and contains no cholesterol. And so many nutrients – iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, vitamin B, and folate.

4. Falafel is the second most common dish made of chickpeas

After hummus, falafel is the second most common dish made of chickpeas out there. More and more people are eating it as it becomes more popular around the globe.

5. The Israeli Falafel

Falafel became highly popular by Yemeni Jews in Israel in 1950s. They brought with them deep fried balls made of chickpeas from Yemen that were served in a pita or wrapped in a flatbread. It is commonly considered to be a national dish in Israel.

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Padma Lakshmi Shows Off ‘Rounder’ and ‘Thicker’ Figure in Bikini During Top Chef Filming

The Top Chef  diet looks good on Padma Lakshmi.

As the host and judge of the Bravo show for 14 seasons, Lakshmi has previously told PEOPLE that all of those quickfire and elimination challenges add up to about 8,000 calories per day when she’s filming. She even claims to have gained 17 lbs. in one season as she plowed through deep dish pizzas in Chicago.

Now that the cameras are rolling in Colorado for the new season, Lakshmi is showing off those results on Instagram, looking stunning in a royal blue bikini.

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“Week 5 of filming and hips getting rounder, thighs getting thicker…,” she captioned the poolside shot with a gorgeous view of the rocky mountains in the background.

“I’m the only person on Top Chef who consumes every single thing that’s made,” Lakshmi told PEOPLE last March. “And I’m doing this every day, for weeks on end. And so, you feel just drunk and full of food.” (Tom Colicchio, for the record, says he losesweight during filming.)

Once the season wraps, she goes into a total “food detox,” cutting out “alcohol, sweets, all dairy, except non-fat yogurt and cottage cheese, red meat, all things fried and all sugar.”

The new season of Top Chef  is expected to premiere later this year.

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Today is national cotton Candy day. Read these facts.

Cotton Candy Fun Facts: Originally called “Fairy Floss”, the process of making Cotton Candy was invented by four men: Thomas Patton, Josef Delarose Lascaux, John C. Wharton, and William Morrison in 1899.

  • In 1904, these two Nashville candy makers introduced their invention of how to make cotton candy to the St. Louis World’s Fair.  Due to fair goers’ curiosity, these inventors sold approximately 68,655 boxes of cotton candy for 25 cents a box for a total of $17,163.75.
  • July 31st and December 7th is National Cotton Candy Day.
  • Sugar is the only ingredient in cotton candy.
  • Cotton Candy is fat free.
  • The only advancements to cotton candy over the years have been mass production and equipment upgrades.
  • Fairy Floss and Spun Sugar started being called Cotton Candy in the 1920’s. But many places around the world still call Cotton Candy by other names.