Monthly Archives: May 2019

Top 10 Tips for Purchasing Restaurant Equipment

  1. Look for the blue NSF sticker on any and all restaurant equipment. If the equipment has not been approved by NSF (http://www.nsf.org/), it is not suitable for use in a commercial kitchen. Hefty fines can be levied by inspectors who find non-NSF approved restaurant equipment in your kitchen.
  2. Limit the amount of restaurant equipment you buy. Keep your menu in mind and focus on keeping your kitchen compact and efficient. This means buying as few pieces of restaurant equipment as possible to fit your space.
  3. If you are buying used restaurant equipment, get to know the seller beforehand. Make sure that you are comfortable with the seller and you feel you can trust them.
  4. Make certain that all parts work. If you are looking at used equipment being sold by a restaurant owner, ask to come see the pieces in person so that you can make sure everything is in operating condition before making the purchase.
  5. Bring in a 3rd party resource. If you don’t know the dealer well, have a certified technician come in with you to inspect the restaurant equipment.
  6. Don’t get pressured into a purchase.  You want to feel comfortable with the restaurant equipment you end up purchasing, don’t let a salesperson sell you something you don’t need.
  7. Make sure your restaurant equipment will meet local codes. Your local health, fire and building code department will be able to provide you with spec sheets that detail what they do and don’t allow in a commercial kitchen.
  8. Be aware of your city’s zoning regulations. Many factors can contribute to restaurants receiving or being denied approval. The standards can be different on a city, county and state level.
  9. Make sure your building can support numerous commercial appliances. Despite their charm, many old buildings simply do not have adequate electricity to support a modern restaurant.
  10. Pay special attention to the type of commercial refrigeration you purchase. In hot months, commercial refrigeration equipment and commercial ice machines have to work harder to keep cool and can overheat, causing constant electrical outages.

A History of How Spun Sugar Became Cotton Candy

Cotton candy is a treat found at nearly all carnivals, street fairs and even some movie theaters. It is sold at ballparks and swimming pools around the country and has become a definitive summer treat. The airy sugar snack has century-old roots dating back to the 15th century to Italian elite society.

Cotton Candy’s Early Days
Cotton candy in its current form is a relatively new sweet at only a hundred years old, but versions of cotton candy called spun sugar were popular with the upper class dating back to the 1400s in Italy. Spun sugar was sugar that was melted and drizzled over sheets or objects to create various forms made from sugar. Because the process of creating spun sugar was so time consuming and used sugar, a luxury ingredient at the time, spun sugar was typically a delicacy only afforded to the wealthy or elite.

Spun sugar was typically made as an edible table centerpiece and accompanied by various fruits. In fact, there were chefs that were renowned to be spun sugar “sculptors,” and they would spend hours creating works of art from the liquid sugar.

This was the original form that cotton candy took and it was made this way until the turn of the 20th century, when the electric cotton candy machine was invented.

Spun Sugar Gets a Modern Twist
The patent for an electric sugar spinning machine was granted in 1897 to two men from Nashville, TN named William Morrison and John C. Wharton. They debuted their new invention at the Paris Exposition in 1900 and again at the Saint Louis World’s Fair in 1904. The duo called the expertly spun sugar “fairy floss” and charged 25 cents per box. That may not sound like much until you factor in inflation which means that each box cost roughly $6.

Regardless of the hefty price tag, Morrison and Wharton sold over 68,000 boxes of fairy floss during the six month course of the fair, earning around $17,000, or $370,000 in today’s terms.

The floss was such a hit that only a year later, a candy store picked up a machine and started selling the fairy floss for five to ten cents a serving. The sugar treat was referred to as spun sugar or fairy floss until the early 1920s, when the new name of “cotton candy” started to become the more popular term due to its similar appearance to cotton.

Cotton Candy Science
Since the invention of modern day cotton candy, very little has changed with regards to the floss machine. There have been improvements made to increase reliability, but the concept remains the same.

Flavored sugar, called flossugar, is placed in the center of the cotton candy machine in a spinning head. This head heats the sugar up to 300°F, when it begins to melt. When the head gets spinning, centrifugal force pushes the melted sugar out of the center and through a mesh screen around the spinning head. This breaks the sugar up into the fine pieces of floss that is customary today.

The fine threads are caught in a bowl that encompasses the spinning head. The bowl can be either metal or plastic. The bowl will typically have some sort of netting or thick wire mesh to catch and hold the flying strands of sugar more easily.

For nearly half a century, cotton candy machines were noisy and unreliable until the 1940s, when a company known as Gold Medal invented a cotton candy machine with a spring base which made the machine more reliable and more efficient.

That last innovation to the cotton candy industry was in the early 1970s, when an automatic cotton candy machine was invented. This allowed the production of cotton candy to become so automatic that it could be found in stores all over the city long after all the fairs left town. The machine makes uniform loops of cotton candy and then automatically bags it in an air- and water-tight bag.

Despite the advance in technology, the biggest advances in cotton candy production have actually come in the form of colors and flavors. While the pink vanilla flavor is still the most popular, there are a wide variety of flossugar flavors and colors nowadays ranging fromSour Raspberry to Watermelon.

Making Cotton Candy
The technical aspect of spinning sugar into floss aside, making cotton candy is a snap. Choose between flossugar or flossine as your base ingredient, set it to heat and get the floss machine spinning.

The traditional method of vending cotton candy is on a paper cone. To get started rolling your candy floss onto the cone, wet the edges of the cone just a bit to get the spun sugar to stick initially. Then begin rolling the cone in the opposite direction and wrapping the floss around the cone until it is full. Make a quick swiping motion through the sheet of cotton candy when you are ready to end one cone and begin a new one.

From royal delicacy to carnival treat, cotton candy has changed quite a bit in the centuries since this sweet snack was invented. From elite fare to carnival candy, this treat is known today for its fluffy, airy texture, whimsical colors and melt-in-your-mouth goodness. And while it is not quite the delicacy it once was, cotton candy is still a special treat to indulge your sweet tooth.

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