ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Salt water taffy and the sweet taste of summer

Updated on June 17, 2013
Barrels of salt water taffy by miss.libertine on Flickr
Barrels of salt water taffy by miss.libertine on Flickr

Salt water taffy is sweet and chewy. Sometimes it starts out hard as a gumball before giving way to chewiness. Other times it is soft and pliable from the get-go, the taffy stretching before finally breaking apart.

Salt water taffy is an American treat usually bought in seaside towns during the summer. It’s a popular souvenir item in beach shops, sometimes offered in commemorative boxes and tins. Some of the best salt water taffy is found in barrels, where the flavors can be mixed and matched for a price per pound.

Salt water taffy is wrapped in wax paper so that the candy doesn’t stick to the wrapper. The candy’s color shows through the paper, and each piece of salt water taffy is usually dyed in a rainbow hue to reflect the flavor.

How salt water taffy is made from The Philly Food Show

The origins of salt water taffy

Despite its name and the ocean that surrounds salt water taffy-makers, salt water taffy doesn’t have any seawater in it. It’s made with salt, and it’s made with water, but seawater has nothing to do with it.

Salt water taffy was first made in the late 1800s in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After a flood that drenched his entire candy shop in seawater, the store’s owner, David Bradley, decided to make the most of his predicament. A girl came into his candy shop looking for taffy, and he offered her “salt water taffy” as a joke. The girl took his words to heart, however, and bought some to take to her friends.

Joseph Fralinger, a candy-maker in the same area, decided to market the salt water taffy as a souvenir for people to bring back from the Jersey shoreline. This popularized salt water taffy beyond the beachside stalls, and it became a popular treat with both tourists and locals.

With Fralinger’s success came an imitator, Enoch James, who made the taffy less sticky and regulated the taffy-pulling process. He sold the taffy in bite-sized pieces rather than strips, and soon his business was booming as well.

Today, salt water taffy is a popular souvenir item that can be found well beyond the Jersey shore. Salt water taffy can be found up and down the East Coast, in San Francisco, and even from online specialty shops. Fralinger’s and James’s shops are still up and running on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Mm, maple bacon by jdsmith1021 on Flickr
Mm, maple bacon by jdsmith1021 on Flickr

A little salty, a lot sweet

Taffy is sticky like toffee, and it’s made by pulling and stretching heated sugar until it turns light and fluffy. The pulled sugar is rolled and cut into the characteristic bite-size pieces. Taffy candies are sometimes called chews in Britain, and this term refers to candies such as Laffy Taffy (naturally) and Starburst.

Salt water taffy comes in a variety of flavors. In light of the modern obsession for novelty and the rise of foodie culture, salt water taffy can come in such flavors as maple bacon, chile mango, cupcake, melon, and cinnamon bun--and that’s just for starters. Salt water taffy takes on flavors easily, and it can be flavored in whatever matter the candy-maker sees fit.

Not an online retailer, but hilarious by Calgary Reviews on Flickr
Not an online retailer, but hilarious by Calgary Reviews on Flickr

Where to find salt water taffy

Salt water taffy is a tourist purchase. Without a doubt, if you go to the beach in the United States, East Coast or West, you’ll find someone selling salt water taffy amidst the painted seashells, hermit crabs, tourist tees, and boogie boards. The prices are usually affordable, ranging from $3.99 to $5.99 a pound. Because salt water taffy is light and airy, bulk purchases are fairly inexpensive.

If you can’t make it to the beach but desperately want salt water taffy, there are many old-timey candy stores selling it online. As with everything these days, Amazon also sells salt water taffy from its warehouse and through third-party vendors. You can’t always choose your flavor online, though, so be sure to see if the candies are random or preselected.

Here are a few online vendors, with links to additional Amazon offerings below:

Learn to make salt water taffy with Today's Nest

No beach, no problem: DIY salt water taffy

One of the coolest things about salt water taffy is that it’s not difficult to make. It’s tedious, and you’ll get a workout as you pull and pull and pull, but in the end, you’ll be able to create your own flavors and make as much salt water taffy as you like.

The Exploratorium, a website explaining the science of cooking, has a wonderful recipe for salt water taffy on their site. The recipe makes about 50 pieces, so it’s plenty enough to share with friends. The recipe even explains the principles behind the recipe.

Pulling taffy by Sunset Sailor on Flickr
Pulling taffy by Sunset Sailor on Flickr

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • My Cook Book profile image

      Dil Vil 

      5 years ago from India

      This is nice, good hub. Thanks for the share.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)