The Candy Men: Meet the cotton candy vendors of Mumbai

Across the Indian city of Mumbai, cotton candy remains popular with those looking for an affordable treat as the country emerges from a grueling series of Covid lockdowns and restrictions.

Photographer Jon Enoch‘s newly released series showcases the cotton candy vendors who live and work near the beaches and county fairs of Mumbai’s western sprawl, and their unique and varied ways of displaying their wares and attracting shoppers.

Mumbai is India’s most populous city, home to Bollywood stars and the country’s financial hub. India’s recent economic growth has been plagued by rising obesity and a dental crisis. Lassi, fresh juices and homemade dishes are replaced by a blast of cheap sugar.

It has been found that cotton candy and colorful Indian sweets sometimes contain banned artificial food colors, most notably rhodamine B, a fluorescent dye that is banned because it is potentially carcinogenic and unfit for human consumption.

Enoch, who won the prestigious 2020 Smithsonian Award for his images of motorcycle delivery drivers in Hanoi, said: “Reading that the desire to create the perfect, eye-catching, bright pink cotton candy often results in unauthorized coloring being added to the mix be, I thought it was the perfect metaphor for the ills of our time.

“My photo projects tend to capture a rapidly changing world and show how traditional aspects of a big city change through the takeover of modernity – for better or for worse.

“The images were taken at night, partly for logistical reasons – it’s cooler and usually quieter – and partly because it gives me the opportunity to experiment with the lighting and create a specific portrait of these cotton candy vendors.

“However, I found it fascinating that Mumbai was never quiet and it was difficult to find a place that wasn’t full of people. Life just goes on – day and night!”

You can find more of Jon Enoch’s work here The Candy Men: Meet the cotton candy vendors of Mumbai


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