ANTRIM, Northern Ireland — Now available from Intermatic Manufacturing Ltd. is a coin-operated cotton candy vending machine that offers very low product cost, high profit and broad appeal. It spins cotton candy (“candyfloss” in Great Britain and Ireland) onto a biodegradable paper stick and delivers it to the patron in just over a minute.
The manufacturer explained that cotton candy is made by first melting pure sugar in a chamber, then extruding it through vents by spinning the chamber at a high speed. It then can be collected by rotating the stick in the spun-sugar “floss” produced by this process. In today’s climate of opinion, cotton candy has many positive attributes: it is made from a naturally occurring product, contains no fat nor salt nor “E numbers” (codes used in the European union to identify artificial preservatives). One portion, on its stick, contains only about 70 calories; and because it melts on the customer’s tongue, it poses little risk to the teeth (one does not chew cotton candy).
Intermatic’s machine can hold 1,200 sticks and enough sugar for 400 vends. Restocking and cleaning takes about 10 minutes. The total cost of delivering a portion ready to eat is 5¢.
The cotton candy can be produced in a variety of colors. The machine is child-friendly, with the action taking place at a convenient height for young customers to watch. Safety flaps isolate the vend collection chamber from all moving parts, so even small children can collect the “floss” safely. “We call this ‘vendotainment,’ and it really does work,” Intermatic explained. Average weekly sales from $600 to $2,000 (U.S.) are being achieved, depending on location, the company added.
An optional telemetry system can provide operators with remote machine diagnostic and financial information, sending the data over a GSM wireless network to a mobile phone or computer. Among other benefits, this enables the operator to analyze sales patterns and identify peak periods, thus optimizing the service schedule. In use, the machine is fully automatic and engineered for reliability. Like anything that incorporates moving parts under microprocessor control, it does require periodic maintenance.
Cotton candy, which has been around since 1904, is well known in many nations, so there should be a strong worldwide market for the machine, Intermatic noted. To date, a small number of machines have been shipped to New Zealand, Kuwit, Grand Canary Island, Nigeria, Russia, Holland and Denmark. Typical customers are children ages four to 14, and machines have done well in movie theaters, bowling alleys, theme parks, shopping malls, hotels, supermarkets, amusement arcades, ice rinks, play centers and holiday camps.
Information is available online by visiting candyfloss-intermatic.co.uk, or by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.