CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{March 11, 2007}   Ringling Rip-Off


I took my six-year-old daughter to her first circus on Sunday. The show was a tad bit overproduced, and I didn’t perceive any sense of awe or amazement from my child, but she enjoyed herself just fine. The one thing she was looking forward to more than anything, in addition to the elephants, was a special sweet treat.

I promised I would buy her cotton candy. After all; you can’t truly enjoy a circus performance without a big ball of spun sugar. So when we got to the arena we went right to the concession stand. I pulled out a few bucks, already chuckling to myself about overpaying for a bag of sugar. Then the vendor behind the counter says “$10 dollars”.


“$10 dollars” – he says again.

My bag of cotton candy has a paper hat stuck on top of it.

“Oh no, no, no” – I say. “I don’t want the hat; I just want the cotton candy. Is there another stand where you can just get the cotton candy?”

The guy looks at me and shrugs his shoulders.

Guess what – there wasn’t. Every flippin’ bag of cotton candy came with a hat stuck on top. The “Forced Souvenir Purchase” trick. Thankfully my daughter didn’t also want a snow cone, because you couldn’t buy just a snow cone…oh no…your cup of ice with syrup flavoring came in a plastic clown-face cup holder for – you guessed it – $10 bucks!

So of course I couldn’t disappoint my daughter and I forked over the dough – partly laughing at myself and partly laughing at the circumstances.

I thought to myself – who’s the real circus clown?


(Photos from the father who paid the ten bucks)


Ed says:

I also went to the circus when it was in town. Why having THREE kids to buy for. I left the circus that night not that entertained and feeling broke.

Sharon says:

We never go to the circus anymore because Ringling is not family friendly at all. $10 for cotton candy? Come on.

Jeff says:

This is no different than going to a Reds or Bengals game. The name of the game is always socking to the poor, getting as much money out of a consumer as you can.

hard as nails says:

from the looks of you, i don’t know if you were at the circus or at bar around closing time.

Heather says:

I don’t think my kids have ever been to the circus.

I hate clowns.

I don’t think cotton candy is $10 even at the sports stadium; that’s ridiculous. I would have said no. I’ve been trying to teach my boys the value of money.

Here’s an interesting tidbit for any parents here: Last week while we were shopping, my son wanted to be in charge of the calculator, and an amazing thing happened. I told him ow much money we had for groceries, and while he added up what we were buying, he was telling me what we had left. His brother wanted to get Wonkazoids (candy dispenser/video game), and when they checked the price, they could see that two Wonkazoids took up an unreasonable chunk of the grocery money, and they put it back without me saying no! Then when they were picking out waffles, the were comparing prices! They passed over all the flashy boxes that had 10 waffles for $3.50, and got 16 plain waffles for $1.99! It was like a miracle!

Sorry, I just had to share that since we’re talking about money and kids.

Ned says:

Do you know how easy and cheap it is to make cotton candy? You paid like a 500% markup.

Harvey says:

Going to the circus with your family is a nice tradition that I have with my family also. But it’s a shame when one needs to take a loan out to do so.

Rita says:

It’s great you are working with your kids regarding the value of money and choices. For a long time and increasingly, Americans have a huge difficulty with postponing gratification and having a sense of entitlement. I mean who really needs a $35000 car – it just gets you from one place to another. Or a $200 or $300 pair of tennis shoes (oh, excuse me – running shoes); you still (hopefully not purposively) walk into dog crap.

It’s a tough call on the Circus; it is a lasting memory with your kids. Do you suck it up? On the other hand, perhaps the memories the kids will have will be just as good if you would go to a park or museum. Dan – regardless of what you – from your picture, any experience with you would be memorable.

Gus_J says:

Go to the zoo instead. The animals are treated better… well, most of the time, and I’m guessing you can bring your own snacks. This ran ( my areas version of CityBeat (CityBeat is much better) when the circus was in my area. On the other hand, I remember my dad taking me to the circus when I was young and it was a blast. I got one of thos little fiber-optic flashlight thingys. In retrospect there are all kinds of things that would have been just as fun.

Sidenote: Hey Larry, the colours here have gone all wonky. Your links are the same colour as the background. I can’t see links until I roll over them. AHA! I just noticed everything looks fine in Internet Explorer, I use Firefox, but 47% of the internet community uses Firefox. I’m just sayin’ 🙂

Gus_J says:

That’s much better.

Matt says:

The “Forced Souvenir Purchase” trick.

…..there should be a law.

Karen says:

Dan, They are only little once. You were a good father buying that cotton candy 🙂

Marilyn says:

My husband and I raised 4 kids — 2 of mine and 2 of his.

Any outing had to be budgeted for and planned. $10 for cotton candy… yep, I’d have done it, once. But it’s really sad that we get screwed so badly.

C.A. says:

I’m with Heather. Clowns freak the shit outta me. And I’m with Gus, I dig za zoo. The circus makes me particularly sad for the elephants. Last time I went, they had a unicorn, which was really a goat. I end up wanting to free all of the animals. When my bro and i were little, we’d catch turtles, and I’d always set them free in the middle of the night, and he’d get so pissed.

Marilyn says:

Weird, it just struck me, I’ve never been to any circus.

Places I took my kids: zoo, museums, outdoor play Tecumseh (several times), camping, a play, concerts, but no circus.

Heather says:

Circuses (Circi?) should be banned.

Their clowns and their treatment of animals is bad enough.

But $10 cotton candy is the final straw.

Jen says:

I’m sort of with Heather and CA. I think I would be depressed going to the circus. Their animals aren’t treated well.

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