The pounding surf, the cries of the gulls, rippling sea breezes, predictable carnival rides, cameras galore and sought-after tackiness, this is the beach where everyone’s hanging loose munching on the usual seaside tempters — caramels, fudge, pralines, candy apples, funnel cake, cotton candy and good old salt water taffy which happens to contain no salt water at all!
Flavors range from Jalapeno to Molasses, from Pina Colada to Cherry Cheesecake, from coffee to Fluffernut, and the list is long. The Canadian favorite is maple syrup taffy.
Salt water taffy traces its beginnings to Baghdad and the 10th century. It has its origins based in the Turkish delight for nougat. Much, much later, actual taffy was contrived by an Austrian U.S. immigrant, and it made its appearance in the 1800s at Atlantic City’s boardwalk.
The “salt water” description added to taffy stems from an old story when after a flood filled a taffy shop with salt water, the disenchanted shop owner asked a little girl the next day if she’d like a box of salt water taffy. She said it was very good. The salt water concept never went any further.
BUYING YOUR TAFFY
Easily purchased at many U.S. beaches, salt water taffy is also popular through mailorder and in shops in a few inland states from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It’s always fun to watch commercial taffy being made in very large kettles. Next it is transferred to a vacuum cooking process then onto the stretcher which is the most fun. The stretcher, or puller, is the mechanical way to make the taffy softer, more opaque and pleasantly chewy by incorporating air into the taffy mixture. Here is a taffy-making video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDmi7upnbO4
MAKING YOUR TAFFY, WITH A PULLER ON HAND
Taffy-pulling parties used to be a popular kids’ pastime. Once the mixture was cooked and cooled sufficiently, each child was given a lump of taffy to pull in their buttered fingers until it ceased to be clear, was stiffer and harder to pull.
Below are foodsites with taffy recipes: