In Atlantic City, New Jersey, it’s often packaged in collectible beach themed or Atlantic City memorabilia containers. Salt Water Taffy remains a popular treat and is often purchased as a gift or souvenir from that location. Otherwise, sources for this candy range from exclusive high-end boutiques to buy-it-by-the-pound grocery store bulk product departments. Its popularity can be based primarily on one measurement never overlooked by consumers of edible products – it tastes good!
The fable surrounding the name “Salt Water Taffy” is that it originated in 1883 after a northeaster wind caused a flood in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The entire stock of David Bradley’s taffy candy was soaked, seemingly ruining it. Joseph Fralinger, who was manning the shop, was prompted to call the candy “Salt Water Taffy” after several customers ordered it using that (and similar) names. He then packaged the candy and sold it as a souvenir of the flood. This fable, a classic “make lemonade out of lemons” story caught on fast and probably made taffy even more popular.
Frahlingers remains the oldest of Atlantic City’s original businesses on the Boardwalk, still selling a large variety of saltwater taffy. Due to the popularity of the candy (and especially its name) the Trademark for “Salt Water Taffy” was brought under legal dispute several times throughout history. This sweet treat remains highly popular to this day, and the name represents the sweet result of American resourcefulness, creativity, and capitalism.
“Taffy Pulls” were the social event participated in by family, friends, and neighbors; and documented in much literature and history of the late 1800’s. After making the simple recipe, the taffy was hung on a hook then stretched to a length of 5-6 feet long. It was then looped back to the hook again and the strands were folded together. This “aerated” the mixture, which made the candy softer. Of course, this pulling process was eventually mechanized. A man named Enoch James is credited with being the first to innovate the equipment and process that would make taffy pulling faster, more efficient, and suitable for commercial use. However, it’s reported that old fashioned taffy pulls do continue to be held at parties in the Country of Wales.
The recipe for taffy is quite simple. It includes the common ingredients corn syrup, butter, sugar, corn starch, water, and salt. After the desired food coloring and flavoring is added the mixture is boiled to the “soft crack” stage at a temperature of 270 degrees Fahrenheit. Today, of course, Salt Water Taffy is primarily produced in a large scale environment using modern manufacturing processes. Salt Water Taffy, which actually contains no sea water whatsoever, is available in colors and flavors to coordinate with most any occasion, holiday, or theme. Many varieties contain a soft filling in the middle of each candy with a special flavor and color. Though the candy is sold everywhere, Atlantic City is still considered its traditional “home” of origin in the United States. In Great Britain, the name ‘Taffy’ is often used interchangeably with ‘Toffee’.
Salt Water Taffy is just one of the many candies, both nostalgic and new, that visitors to Popsies in Oak Harbor, Washington will find. It can be included in online custom orders as well, at http://www.popsiespugetsoundpopcorn.com