It is probably the only treat which has just one ingredient: sugar.
The soft, billowy pink puff of cloud explodes in your mouth, leaving just a sweet, sticky smack on the tongue… Is there a soul alive who can resist the pink cotton candy? It is pure happiness rolled on to a stick, no better way to put it.
A staple at fairgrounds, festivals and on the beach, cotton candy has to be one of those irresistible treats that makes you want to steal or beg a bite from your child’s candy unabashedly.
Almost all adults will have childhood memories about stuffing themselves with cotton candy at fairgrounds, which is why one feels so indignant when faced with the news that prohibited chemicals — a textile dye, no less — is used these days to colour your favourite treat of pink.
But food safety has never been a public concern as it is now. It is with dismay that many read that an analysis of cotton candy samples collected from the Shanghumughom beach has revealed the presence of the chemical Rhodamine B, which can be potentially harmful to health because it has no role as a food colour at all.
Rhodamine B is a textile dye, which is heat stable. The colour does not fade when heated, probably the reason why it is being used to colour cotton candy.
Ardent dieters will tell you that cotton candy is just pure sugar and that it is better to avoid piling on all those empty calories — a single standard-size serving of cotton candy can be no less than 100 calories — but then, calories is the last thing on your mind when you see those pink fluffy clouds.
Cotton candy, or candyfloss, is just spun sugar with a bit of colour. It is an art by itself, the way heated sugar strands just pop up on the inside of the cotton candy machine, which is rolled so artfully by the vendor on to a stick or stuffed into a polythene bag.
One can console oneself that cotton candy is an occasional treat and probably very little amounts of the chemical might be ingested by one. But a safer bet might be to settle for the colourless clouds of sugar.