Most everyone loves salt water taffy, a classic chewy, sweet treat that makes everybody smile. But did you ever wonder when and how this iconic candy was first made? We know we have, and that’s why we’re here to bring you the sugary sweet history of Salt Water Taffy!
Salt Water Taffy is a variety of soft taffy originally produced and marketed in Atlantic City, New Jersey, beginning in the late 19th century. The most popular explanation of the name is that of a candy-store owner, David Bradley, whose shop was flooded during a major storm in 1883. His entire stock of taffy was soaked with salty Atlantic Ocean water. Shortly afterward, a young girl came into his shop and asked if he had any taffy for sale. Mr. Bradley jokingly offered her some “salt water taffy.” After sampling a piece, the girl purchased the candy and proudly walked down to the beach to show her friends. Bradley’s mother was in the back of the store and overheard the whole conversation. She loved the name “saltwater taffy”, and that’s what it was called from then on.
Making Salt Water Taffy
Taffy was first cooked in copper kettles over open coal fires, cooled on marble slabs, and pulled from a large hook. The “Taffy Pull” was a household enjoyment on Saturday nights as well as an Atlantic City enterprise. The process of pulling taffy adds air to the corn syrup and sugar mix. First the puller got the taffy to about a 5 foot length, then it is looped over itself on the hook, trapping air between the two lengths of taffy. This process of aeration helped to keep the taffy soft. The pulled taffy was shaped by hand-rolling it on marble or wooden tables. It was then cut to a 2-inch length with scissors and, finally, wrapped in a pre-cut piece of wax paper with a twist at both ends. All of this was done by hand and usually within the sight of boardwalk strollers.
Whatever the origins, Joseph Fralinger really popularized the candy by boxing it and selling it as an Atlantic City souvenir in about 1886. Fralinger’s first major competitor was candy maker Enoch James, who refined the recipe, making it less sticky and easier to unwrap. James also cut the candy into bite-sized pieces, and is credited with mechanizing the “pulling” process. Both of the competitor’s stores still operate on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
Today’s taffy is cooked in large stainless steel or copper kettles and then vacuum cooked a second time. The pulling and packaging is now done with machines. This produces much more taffy at greater speeds.
Salt water taffy is still sold on the boardwalks in Atlantic City, nearby island Ocean City, and other tourist beachfront areas throughout the United States and Canada. It is also, of course, sold online at BulkCandy Store.
Salt water taffy is composed of sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerine, water, butter, salt, flavor, and food coloring. Contrary to popular belief, the taffy contains no actual sea water. However, it does contain both salt and water.
Where can I get saltwater taffy?
Salt water taffy is available all over the U.S., most commonly sold at dessert shops, ice cream shops, and candy shops, of course! At BulkCandy Store, we have a gigantic variety of flavors, including Peach, Licorice, Grape, Vanilla, Tutti Frutti, and Key Lime with Coconut Swirl, just to name a few. And good news! All of our salt water taffy collection is Kosher! So don’t wait, try a piece of this delicious chewy oldie but goodie treat today, and find out for yourself why these candies are still around after over 100 years!
You can find out loads about ALL candy and their sweet histories at our History of Candy Tour, where we take you back in time to the ancient Egyptians all the way to what candy is today. So if you’re crazy about candy, (come on, who isn’t?) definitely come on in to our retail store and experience the evolution of your favorite treats!