Bitter reality hits cotton candy vendors

Many vendors have been roped in by event management companies — Photo: M. Moorthy   | Photo Credit: M. Moorthy

For many, the rattle of the bell from the panju mittai or cotton candy man’s vehicle conjures up images of not just the spongy pink sweet but a way of life.

Sadly, the vendors, who once seemed a fixture at every street corner, have disappeared and the trade is now restricted to beaches, carnivals and private functions.

Until a few decades ago, kids would abandon their pursuits on the playground and gather around the vehicle the moment they heard the distinctive sound of the bell.

Watching the cotton candy man dexterously shaping the pink, fluffy sweet was as delightful an experience as eating it.

However, it seems this generation of children might not have this opportunity.

“Putting up stalls at marriage venues is more remunerative than selling candy on roads,” says Ramraj Boranna, a contractor who sets up cotton candy stalls for marriages and birthday parties.

Ramraj and his brother Beera entered the trade nearly 20 years ago by selling ice creams and cotton candy on the road.

“We used to give the packed cotton candy to a few youngsters from Uttar Pradesh who would sell it for us. A while ago, they returned to their hometown,” says Beera.

The candy is sold for Rs. 10 on beaches. “Many of those who used to sell the candy on the road have been roped in by event management companies or have set up stalls inside shopping malls. At functions, we charge Rs. 4,000 for setting up a stall for three hours and people can have unlimited amounts of candy,” Ramraj explains.

This crowd-favourite is quite easy to make. “Sugar is added into the round container fixed on a machine. As it rotates, strands are formed due to the heat and are collected using a stick. An additive is used to give the candy its pink colour,” he adds.

However, many parents nowadays are reluctant to let their children eat the candy for fear of diseases. “It is no longer profitable to sell the candy alone. So, we also sell popcorn, ice creams and chaat items,” he says.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 5:50:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chen-columns/disappearing-trades-bitter-reality-hits-cotton-candy-vendors/article6612184.ece

Next Story