The machine says you can use any hard candy. We bought a bag of Jolly Ranchers Hard Candy, and just in case it didn't work, I bought this 5 pack of Cotton Candy Sugar from Amazon for $25.
We started out with the Jolly Ranchers.
It took about 5 minutes to really get the floss going, but after that, it was pretty quick to form a cotton candy ball.
I realized after that first attempt that I should have left the stick hovering over the top of the bowl instead of putting it inside and scooping the floss up. It didn't make a nice poofy ball, but made it really tight. It still tasted like cotton candy, but it wasn't that soft cloud you normally eat. You can see the tight ball it made here.
So we tried again, both with the sugar and with more Jolly Ranchers and finally got it right:
The verdict on the Jolly Ranchers vs the sugar? They both fluffed up into soft, fluffy balls. The sugar had a nice flavor, but all the colors were very faint, almost white, no matter what flavor you chose. As for taste, Allison, my 8 year old, didn't have a preference. However, my 12 year old enjoyed the Jolly Rancher made cotton candy over the sugar. We did notice it had a much sweeter flavor than the sugar did, and it had better coloring after flossing up.