Have you ever had fresh cotton candy? Not the puffy candy that you get on cones at the local fair or a professional sporting event, but fresh candy that has been recently spun? It’s soft, has lots of flavor, and melts in your mouth beautifully. Sometimes cotton candy is called candy floss and that is because of how it was invented. In 1897, William Morrison and John Warton together came up with a new candy product for their business that they called “fairy floss.”
It was shown to the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904 and the world has never looked back. The pair was able to sell over 68,000 boxes of their fairy floss, but by 1920 the name of cotton candy had become part of society. It is created when heated sugar is placed into a spinning bowl with tiny holes in it that makes the feathery candy.
Morrison was a dentist, but he also had a love for inventing. Warton, on the other hand, was a confectioner who was looking to develop new products that he could sell in his business. Although Warton isn’t on record of any other inventions, Morrison is. He became the President of the Tennessee State Dental Association and was also the author of several children’s books. Here is a brief look at Morrison’s other notable inventions.
1. Cottonseed Oil
Before there was margarine, there was lard. It is an effective baking substance, but it wasn’t always available in Morrison’s time and when it was, it could be quite expensive. Why settle for baking only when lard was available? That didn’t make sense. This caused Morrison to look for new ways to create baking substitutes. What Morrison ended up discovering was that cottonseeds had oil in it that could be extracted and then converted into a lard substitute. The process was cheap enough to make it a viable solution for many families.
Cottonseed oil is found in many food products today and is used in more than just baking. For several decades it was one of the major vegetable oils that was produced and is still ranked third behind corn oil and soybean oil today. It is used generally as a salad or cooking oil today, but is sometimes used for frying as well. It is low in unsaturated fats, yet replicates the effects of lard in baking, making it a healthier cooking option for many households.
2. Drinking Water Purification
One of the biggest problems that the world has always faced, and many communities and societies continued to face, is the development of safe drinking water. Even when fresh water is available, it isn’t always safe to drink because of the impurities in the water. There can be a number of dangerous germs in it, making it even deadly to drink. Morrison developed a chemical process that would help to purify public drinking water so that it could be safe to drink once again. The initial process was introduced in Nashville and components of this process can still be seen today in public water treatment systems still today.