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Making Taffy ... A Fun Activity for the Whole Family. Those were the days!

Updated on January 8, 2014

By the lamplight


Taffy making

Nowadays, when we think taffy, we think of the famous salt water candy from the East Coast. That particular taffy did not make its way into our kitchen on the farm, however. We made our own and had lots of fun pulling it and cutting it into pieces, all by the light of our kerosene lamp.

Our recipe

  • 1 cup regular sugar
  • 2 cups corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons white apple cider vinegar (not the gourmet or flavored varieties)
  • pinch baking soda or cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • a bit of food coloring added when beginning to pull the taffy (optional)
  • a bit of flavoring; i.e., mint, lemon, strawberry, or other.

Measure sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar into a heavy sauce pan. Stir until blended, then place on medium heat. Heat to 255 degrees without further stirring. If you do not have a candy thermometer, make sure the mixture reaches a hard ball stage. Add baking soda (or cream of tartar) and butter ... remove from the fire. Pour into buttered plates or glass pie pans. When cool enough to handle, add coloring and/or flavoring to mixture (it will mix in when pulling), pull until white and cut into pieces. You will need butter on your hands and the pulling will take at least ten or fifteen minutes. You will see the taffy gradually turn opaque and dull looking and it should not be sticky. The taffy pictured was not shiny ... it must have been light reflecting.

Note: The brown colored taffy in the picture is different because I didn't stir the sugar and corn syrup mixture. It burned on the bottom before we noticed. We cooked it to the hard ball stage, added the other ingredients, and pulled it. The resulting taffy was wonderful!

Taffy photos

See note about this taffy.
See note about this taffy.

Some corn syrup trivia

For the above recipe, I used Karo light corn syrup. I believe that the 'light' refers to color not to calories. I can remember using Staley corn syrup which, at that time, was made in Decator, Illinois. We were a farm during World War II and, I believe, received corn syrup and sugar coupons. The corn syrup we were given was so thick that a spoon practically could stand upright in it. Staley's was also very thick. I'm not sure if the consistency of the syrup effected the taffy mixture but it may have.

I believe the company that was Staleys now makes, in addition to other products, the much discussed high fructose corn syrup. That topic would make an interesting hub and likely there have already been numerous ones written. I will merely say that I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup whenever possible!


  • We recited poetry during some of our family activities. I remember learning Snow Bound and I can still say the first verse. Also, the prologue to Evangeline was one of my favorites. There were so many more that were memorized and retold ... I Have a Rendezvous with Death and The Highwayman were also favorites. Now, it might well be The Giving Tree and poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends. We didn't have a sidewalk but the concept is the same.


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