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Chinese-style cotton candy

Rocky makes Chinese-style, flower-shaped cotton candy in a booth on Coney Island’s Bowery. May 30, 2015

Chinese-style cotton candy has come to Coney Island’s Bowery, where a friendly vendor nicknamed Rocky spins and shapes the flossy threads into a multi-colored pastel flower. In the video that we shot it takes him just one minute and several seconds to create the amazing confection. Rocky says this style of cotton candy is popular in southern China and that he learned the technique by watching videos on the web. Videos shot in China of street vendors making the flower-shaped cotton candy are prolific on YouTube but it’s our first sighting of the phenom in New York City.

The quintessential carnival food debuted as “fairy floss” at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, where it was served in a wooden box and took in more than $17,000 over the fair’s six-month run. The new booth on the Bowery at West 12th street has also introduced frozen yogurt with toppings sold by the ounce to Coney Island. It is owned by 5D Cinema proprietor Terry Zheng and located next-door to his theater.

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Cotton Candy Vendor

Cotton Candy Vendor, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Sunny, summery weather is back this week with temps in the low 80s forecast for Monday and Tuesday and high 70s the rest of the week. There’s plenty of freshly spun cotton candy for sale in Coney Island, too. What’s open? Check out our post “Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round.”

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Thank you to Paul Georgoulakos and his family and staff for more than 40 years of service to Coney Island. Here’s our slide show from November 13th’s “Thank You Coney Island! We Love You” party along with additional images.

Writing about the closing of Paul’s Daughter, formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s, is so overwhelmingly sad that we keep postponing it. We keep hoping the Coney Island Rumor Mill has it right this time and the rumors that some or all of the evicted Boardwalk businesses will get one to three year leases from Luna Park turn out to be more than wishful thinking. The legal wrangling begins in court on Monday.

Paul Georgoulakos behind the counter on Paul's Daughter's last day. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Paul Georgoulakos behind the counter on Paul's Daughter's last day. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The evicted business owners and their attorney will be rallying on the Boardwalk on Monday at 2 pm. A politician is expected to show up. We can’t say the pol’s name, but considering the absolute silence from officials since November 1st’s Monday Morning Massacre, a politician’s support would be news. UPDATE... ATZ learned that the event previously described to us as a “rally” and which we were unable to attend was actually a meeting on the Boardwalk in front of the Grill House. In attendance were the business owners, their attorney and a politician, as well as the press and bystanders. The pol was State Senator Carl Kruger, who said “Coney Island should be evolution not revolution” and promised to fight for their cause. Watch News 12 Brooklyn at 5 pm for a report and check Rich Calder’s blog in the NY Post.

When Mayor Bloomberg visited Coney Island this season, we’re told that he posed for a photo with 81-year- old Paul Georgoulakos. If somebody would send us the photo, we’ll gladly post it with an appropriate caption: @MikeBloomberg: Please show respect for Coney Island’s elders & renew Boardwalk leases. In the meantime, call 311 or 212-NEW YORK outside of NYC and leave a comment for the Mayor.

The Best French Fries in Coney Island. Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. November 13, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Best French Fries in Coney Island. Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. November 13, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Paul’s hand-cut french fries are the best in all of Coney Island–yes, better than Nathan’s! Our fondess for G & P’s fries is linked in our memory to Gregory’s appearance in the lede of our travel feature for Islands Magazine in 2000. Color photos of Coney’s characteristic “Shish-Kabob Hot Dog French Fries” signage were splashed across the pages along with pix of the Wonder Wheel and the Mermaid Parade. “Greetings from Coney Island!” was published in the Best Beaches Issue along with Thailand, Greece, Kauai, Puerto Rico and Bermuda! A sticker proudly proclaiming “Coney Island NYC” appeared on the cover of issues for sale in New York.

Here’s the beginning of the story…

Last summer in Coney Island, I discovered that a freshly-spun cotton candy from Gregory and Paul’s was my equivalent of Proust’s madeleine. I was waiting for my order of crinkle-cut, Coney Island-style french fries, when the sight of cotton candy being turned out by a deft hand caught my eye. One, two, three twirls round a paper cone — and it was done. But instead of handing the confection to the fellow who was putting the finished products into clear plastic bags, Gregory handed it to me.

“How did you know I wanted one?” I was incredulous.

“I could see it in your face,” the canny showman explained.

He was right. Though it never would have occurred to me to eat cotton candy as an appetizer to french fries, that’s exactly what I did at Coney Island that day. And blissfully. The moment the magical stuff began to melt on my tongue, I was transported back to the little New England carnivals of the 1950s and ’60s, when I was a carny kid who had the run of the midway, and “floss,” as we called it—along with french fries, hot dogs, popcorn and snowcones — was everyday fare.

Cotton Candy, Saltwater Taffy and Hand-painted Signs at Paul's Daughter. November 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Cotton Candy, Saltwater Taffy and Hand-painted Signs at Paul's Daughter. November 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When the magazine came out in December 2000, Coney was on the cusp of a renaissance. Now it’s come to this: out with the old-timers and the quintessential Coney Island eateries and every little bit of authenticity. Why can’t old and new co-exist in the new Coney Island?

Last French Fry.  Paul's Daughter 'Thank You Coney Island" Party. November 13, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last French Fry. Paul's Daughter 'Thank You Coney Island" Party. November 13, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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December 9, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Signs 8-Year Lease for Coney Island Boardwalk

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Window of Williams Candy on Surf Ave in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Window of Williams Candy on Surf Ave in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

The window of Coney Island’s Williams Candy is hard to resist photographing. As for eating, we recommend the yummy Caramel Marshmallow Sticks with Toasted Coconut and Chocolate Caramel Marshmallow Sticks with Chocolate Sprinkles!

Williams is one of our favorite places in Coney Island. Their tiny shop is right next to Nathan’s Famous and is open year round. Hours are 9 am till 7 pm during the off season. The shop stays open late when Coney is in full swing. Williams also has a delicious looking website where you can order marshmallow sticks and other candy treats online.

Williams Candy, 1318 Surf Ave, Coney Island, 718-372-0302

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