Mexico Life
A boy watching a cotton candy vendor captures wisps of floating sugar on his stick. A boy watching a cotton candy vendor captures wisps of floating sugar on his stick. Photos by Joseph Sorrentino

Cotton candy vendor’s act of kindness unites both kids and adults in joy

Chasing wisps of floating sugar turns out to be a game everyone likes

Cotton candy vendors tend to show up in the Mexico City pueblo of San Gregorio Atlapulco whenever there’s an event going on, which means that under normal conditions they’re usually around a lot.

I don’t know exactly how they make cotton candy, but it apparently involves pouring a sugary liquid into a large, heated disk, which turns the liquid into wisps of candy that float up and are then spooled onto a thin stick.

While spooling the candy, some wisps inevitably escape.

As they float away, children — and some adults — chase these wisps down, jumping in the air, snatching them with their hands or spooling them onto their own sticks. It’s a game that everyone enjoys. Vendors typically have several people around them, waiting to latch onto some liberated candy.

One day, I noticed a particularly large crowd around one vendor and saw that it was because there was so much candy floating freely around him. Kids were running, jumping. Parents were grabbing candy for their little ones, laughing.

San Gregorio Atlapulco vendor blowing cotton candy wisps into the air.
San Gregorio Atlapulco vendor blowing cotton candy wisps into the air.

As I watched, I saw that the vendor kept pulling his stick away from the above the disk and blowing on the wisps so that more of them would escape. The air nearby was filled with them.

He smiled and laughed as he pulled the stick away, watching the wisps float away and the kids who were anxiously waiting nearby. He seemed to be enjoying it as much as the kids. Maybe more.

I don’t imagine these vendors earn much money, but there he was, happily surrendering a significant portion of his business so that a bunch of kids could have some cotton candy for free.

Joseph Sorrentino, a writer, photographer and author of the book San Gregorio Atlapulco: Cosmvisiones, is a regular contributor to Mexico News Daily. More examples of his photographs and links to other articles may be found at www.sorrentinophotography.com  He currently lives in Chipilo, Puebla.

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