Works, but just barely
Dec 17, 2012
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Inexpensive, easy to clean, does work, eventually
Cons:Wastes sugar, very slow to make cones, makes a mess
The Bottom Line: Barely worth the effort. It is messy and does waste sugar. Maybe better to go for a cheap commercial machine on eBay.
Because of how varied the reviews are for this product, it's important to set your expectations. If you're looking to relive your time at the circus or state fair with large fluffy and billowy cones of cotton candy, you'll be disappointed. If you want a modest fix of cotton candy and don't mind working for it, then this just might work for you.
Recommend this product?
Had a hankering for cotton candy one day, and lured by the photo of the fluffy cone on the box I bought this.
I've used it a dozen times, begrudgingly, so it's not that I had a bad experience once or twice. I've put it through its paces, and have determined it's really just a toy, much like an EZ Bake Oven. Yeah, you'll get something barely edible, but not without working for it.
To start, a cotton candy machine works by heating up and melting sugar and spinning it through fine holes or slits on the outside of the spinner in the center. As the liquid sugar passes through the holes, it cools into the fine threads you're used to seeing. The head has to be hot enough to melt the sugar without burning it. Unfortunately, the spinner head on this machine doesn't do a good job and if you put any more than a tiny bit of sugar in at a time, it will cake up and not melt, blocking the holes requiring you to stop the motor and clear it out with a butter knife or some kind of probe so that the sugar will melt.
Interestingly enough, they offer a second variation of this machine with a different box in which they say it's designed for you to use hard candies, with no mention of using sugar floss. At first I thought they were different machines. The principle is that you put hard candy in and it melts just like the sugar. You can do this and say, make cotton candy out of things like PEZ or Jolly Ranchers. It tastes just like the hard candy of course, but you still have the same issues which I'll describe below.
Putting a tiny bit of sugar in at a time means it takes time for you to build a cone of any size, and that time it takes means that the floss on the cone you are rolling starts to absorb moisture from the air making the cotton candy start to shrink and get really sticky. Forget about the really thick and fluffy cotton candy you're used to getting from the $700-$1,000 commercial machines at amusement parks or circuses. It just won't happen with this machine.
Also, you will go through a lot of wasted sugar/floss to get one cone as the sugar spins out leaving a ring of sugar on the bowl. Fortunately, because it is just sugar, cleaning the machine with just water makes it very easy, except for the spinner head (see below.)
While it was never designed to be anything more than a home novelty, the boxes of several of the Nostalgia products refer to these appliances as being professional or commercial, which they're not. As a result, to get a cotton candy cone of say, 6 inches in diameter with this machine will take up to a half hour - I'm not kidding, just one cone. And once it's heated up, if you haven't clogged it already, it will take as long as half that time for an additional cone.
Also, the spinner head of a commercial machine is cleaned by just leaving the motor on for a few minutes allowing the cotton candy to melt and spin out. With this machine, it's near impossible. It just doesn't get hot enough or spin fast enough to really clean it properly.
If you have a lot of patience, only want a tiny bit of cotton candy and don't mind spending an hour to prepare, make and clean a machine that will give you a 2 minute-to-eat small stick of cotton candy, then go for it. Otherwise, you'll be better off finding an inexpensive commercial machine on one of the auction sites that will likely cost at least $250.
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