I have a little table-top cotton candy maker, but it hasn't been used in years because I ran out of the sugar to go in it. One time, I tried making cotton candy with regular granulated sugar, and the burnt-on sugar mess was the stuff of nightmares, both from the perspective of cleaning it up and also because after a certain point, the smell of burnt sugar stops being charming and starts being stinky. I never bothered to buy more cotton candy sugar, and packed the machine away in a never-opened kitchen cupboard.
Lately, though, I've been on a kick to use the things in my kitchen cupboard, and also, I've been in the mood for some cotton candy, and Zoe's at a fun age and likes to try new things, so I figured we were due for some "flossing sugar." I noticed on Amazon that they had a kit with three 8-ounce jars of sugar and 4 reusable plastic cotton candy cones. Despite the mixed reviews on the sugar, everybody seemed to agree that the reusable plastic cotton candy cones were where it's at, so I went ahead and ordered the kit.
Sometimes, I think negative and positive reviews on Amazon can be a bandwagon thing. One person says "this is awful," and all subsequent reviews also agree that something's awful. That's what I was thinking happened to the Sour Apple cotton candy sugar that was included in this kit. See, the other two flavors are blue raspberry and pink vanilla, to standard cotton candy flavors, and if the company that made the sugar for this kit couldn't get those right, then there's no hope for them. The third jar of flossing sugar is "Sour Apple." My jar of Sour Apple arrived kind of clumpy, like a jar of paprika you've shaken directly over the pot of goulash one too many times. Clumpy, but not rendered unusable, necessarily. I took a spoon to break up the clumps so I could shake out an appropriate amount of the green sugar into my cotton candy maker, and decided to help myself to a spoonful of it.
Eating the Sour Apple flossing sugar, I thought that the people on Amazon gave it a bum rap. It wasn't bad at all! It was a pleasantly unnatural shade of acid green, and tasted like Nerds candy, that blend of tangy and sweet. How could a sugar that tasted pretty good from a spoon go wrong in the cotton candy machine? I was prepared to be the dissenting vote on Amazon, let me tell you!
You know, for this time of year, Pre-Halloween, the Sour Apple flossing sugar is kind of perfect. Acid green in the jar, weird flavor combination, and when it comes out of the machine, it makes a spooky, cobweb-looking pale green ball of cotton candy that tastes magnificently like...
Oh, my God, it's terrible, the cobweb-looking ball of pale green candy floss. Bitter. Bitter, bitter! Good lord, I thought about licking the floor to get the taste out of my mouth! How could something that tastes like Nerds candy go through a hot spin art for sugar and come out tasting like bitterness and food color and a hint of bile? Was this the Harry Potter Candy Floss version, without the appropriate badging? Remember when Jelly Belly was making Harry Potter-themed jelly beans? My sister got me a bag for my birthday then. I got a vomit-flavored Jelly Belly in my mouth, and I'm not going to lie. I've had kind of a fear of jelly beans ever since. I'll still eat them, but I sniff them first, each individual one, before blithely popping it into my mouth and chewing. That's what I thought was going on with this Sour Apple Cotton Candy.
It also occurred to me, if it wasn't Harry Potter the people at the cotton candy sugar factory were going for, maybe they were trying to translate the taste of bitter disappointment into a candy. Boy, do I get that! I've never been so disappointed at cotton candy in my life. I've suffered other disappointments, and if they had a flavor, it would probably taste a lot like the Sour Apple cotton candy sugar. Something sweet overcooked to nearly acrid burnt-ness, bitter coloring that makes the tongue curl while you reexamine your life's choices. The dark side of Willy Wonka, for sure.
I'm glad the pink vanilla and blue raspberry sugars taste delicious after a spin in the machine. And in a way, I'm glad that while the Sour Apple really didn't work out at all (how DID it get past the taste-testers in R+D at the cotton candy sugar making facility? Do those people have taste buds? Are they mentally ill?), it's not so bad to eat straight-up as a tangy-sweet spoonful on "that kind of day." It wasn't a total loss, the Sour Apple cotton candy. But I'd like to know what they were thinking, thinking it was a good idea in the first place to create such an odd flavor and then making enough to have to sell it in kits with two good flavors and reusable cotton candy cones, just to get rid of it. Is there some twisted population that actually LIKES the Sour Apple cotton candy in this kit? I'd really like to listen to what those people have to say, if they have anything to say!