Salt water taffy is a tasty treat that’s right at home in shops all along coastlines everywhere. If you’ve ever had a mouthful of seawater, though, you probably know that salt water taffy is sweet and doesn’t taste anything like seawater. What’s up with that?
Salt water taffy was born along the boardwalks of Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the late 19th century. It quickly became a popular souvenir with visitors and eventually spread to many other coastal towns.
Although taffy recipes vary from one candymaker to another, the most common ingredients in taffy are sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, water, butter, salt, food coloring and flavorings. You may have noticed that the list of ingredients includes both salt and water.
However, salt water taffy doesn’t actually contain seawater. So how did it get its name?
No one knows for sure how salt water taffy got its name, but one legend holds that it came from David Bradley, who owned a candy store in the late 19th century.
The story goes that Bradley’s candy store became flooded during a major storm in 1883. His entire stock of taffy became soaked with seawater from the Atlantic Ocean, so he began to call it “salt water taffy” as a joke.
Before special taffy-pulling machines were invented, candymakers would pull taffy with a simple hook attached to the wall. They would place a huge glob of taffy (10 to 25 pounds or more!) on the hook and then pull it five or six feet before folding it back on itself and throwing it back over the hook.