William James Morrison was a dentist, lawyer, and author from Nashville, Tennessee in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Because he became President of the Tennessee State Dental Association in 1894 and wrote several children’s books, it might seem a little odd that he would go on to invent cotton candy.
Dr. Morrison patented several inventions in the food department. He developed a process for extracting the oil from cottonseeds and converting it to lard substitute, and even figured out a chemical process to purify the public drinking water in Nashville.
In 1897, he and a Nashville candy maker named John C. Wharton conceived and co-patented an “electric candy machine” which produced what was then called Fairy Floss and today is called Cotton Candy. The product was brought to the public in 1904 and became a huge instant success.