Taste of Nature Sour Patch Cotton Candy

4177 Lindell Boulevard




4177 Lindell Boulevard

Who cares that a swirl of cotton candy looks like the love child of Cousin Itt and Donald Trump's comb-over? Light and airy, this bird's nest is one of the kings of candy, its gossamer threads the webbing that binds many a sweet childhood memory, from ballgames to circuses to county fairs. So much so that it merits its own national holiday: December 7. (Apparently September 11 was booked.)

But just as hairstyles change, so, apparently, has cotton candy. Consider Taste of Nature Sour Patch Cotton Candy, matted and bearing the consistency of raw fiberglass, reminiscent of nothing so much as a rainbow-wigged clown's massive unwashed dreadlock.

The yellow bag it comes in seems happy enough, the enthusiastic graphics cheerily announcing that the contents contain "Zero G Trans Fat." Closer inspection reveals that Taste of Nature Sour Patch Cotton Candy qualifies for scads of zeroes: 0g saturated fat, 0g cholesterol, 0g fiber and 0g sodium.

So what does it have? Sugar, 28 grams per 28-gram serving. Of course, that's no surprise. What is surprising is that the folks at Taste of Nature have managed to make something so naturally sweet as sugar taste so... unnatural.

The bag promises that it may contain "up to four of the following natural and artificial flavors: Lime, Lemon, Orange, Red Berry." My sack o' Sour Patch Cotton Candy looked green, red and orange, so I'll assume I've missed out on the lemon. Whatever. Close your eyes and it's impossible to guess which shade of sugar, citric and tartaric acids you're using to punish your taste buds.

And punish it does. Ostensibly, Taste of Nature Sour Patch Cotton Candy is "sour then sweet." Make that "bitter," just plain bitter, blunt trauma inflicted upon the entire mouth.

Since it's early yet and I've just brushed my teeth (I like to be fresh), I wondered if the dissonance might owe to toothpaste (Aquafresh). That hypothesis is laid to rest when I pull a wad from the bag hours later: The taste is just as bitter.

But my Taste of Nature Sour Patch Cotton Candy is undergoing a bizarre transformation. Two hours out of the bag, it's beginning to shrink, and the "Red Berry" section is developing a glossy crust.

Never one to pass up an unscientific experiment, I leave the bag out overnight. When I check on it the next day, the candy has shrunk into a smooth glob of vitreous sugar, like something that gets plucked from the wreckage after a plane crash.

Now that I think of it, December 7 is a fitting anniversary for National Cotton Candy Day.