Let’s talk about taffy! Taffy is a candy that has been a crowd favourite since the late 19th century and is still well-loved today. Whether you call it taffy, toffee, chews, or salt water taffy, there’s no doubt that this chewy treat is a popular choice among candy lovers. Salt water taffy is often on the mind of any beach goer, but it’s also a great sweet to enjoy just about any time.
But do you know where taffy was invented or how taffy is made? We’re here to get you the inside scoop on everything you never knew about taffy! Here are 5 secrets and facts about taffy that will knock your socks off.
1. It Takes a Lot of Work to Make Taffy
Taffy is one of the most fun, interactive candies to make in our opinion. Many of the most famous taffy makers still use the same pulling process that dates back over 100 years! Talk about tradition! Most taffy is made from a combination of sugar, butter, and some type of vegetable oil that is boiled together to create a sticky, gooey mixture. Once it’s removed from the pan, flavour and food colouring are added and then the mixture is left to cool on a flat surface. After the taffy is cooled, that’s when the work begins! The taffy must be pulled, meaning the taffy must be folded and stretched, over and over again. This process aerates the candy, making it lighter and fluffier so that it is easier for us to chew! The taffy will get harder as it cools, then it needs to be stretched into a long rope and cut into pieces.
Most candies are wrapped in wax paper and come in so many flavours, it’s hard to count. Our candy connoisseurs here at Candy Funhouse couldn’t pick just one favourite taffy flavour so here is a list of our top favourites. Have you tried any of these taffy flavours?
- Candy Floss
- Caramel Apple
- Salt Water Taffy-Lemon Cream
- and you can’t forget Maple Bacon
Watch this mesmerizing video from Insider on how a taffy company in Brooklyn, New York makes salt water taffy the traditional way:
2. The Origin of “Salt Water Taffy” is Unknown but Interesting!
First things first, salt water taffy is not made with salt water. The name is misleading, and the history records aren’t very helpful in this regard either. The origin of taffy, and in particular, the origin of salt water taffy is still unknown. The most popular theory about where the term salt water taffy came from is this Americana story:
A huge storm hit the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1883 and flooded the boardwalk. After the storm, a candy store owner named David Bradley realized his entire stock of taffy had been flooded by the ocean salt water. When a young girl came to see if the store had any taffy for sale despite the flood, Bradley jokingly responded that he had “salt water taffy.” And so, the moniker was coined.
Today, salt water taffy is often associated with the beach as a summer, shore-related tradition. Boardwalks up and down the Jersey coast boast many salt water taffy makers.
3. Taffy Pulls were a Party!
Back in the 19th century, one of the most popular type of parties were called candypulls. The entire social event was centered around creating taffy candies by boiling molasses or sugar and then having two people pull on it. Taffy pulls were all the rage at birthday parties or even as a reward for school groups or churches. Everyone loved creating their own candy and putting in some elbow grease to make it.
The trick to taffy pulls was all in the timing. If it was pulled too soon after being boiled, it could burn your skin and be too hot to handle (literally!). On the other hand, if you waited too long and the molasses or sugar cooled too quickly, you wouldn’t be able to pull and shape it. The best taffy pullers figured out the perfect timing and had a partner to pull with them over and over again until the molasses or sugar was perfect. At the end, the candy could be cut into bite size pieces or even braided to form pretty little candies!
Fun Fact: National Taffy Day is celebrated on May 23rd in the United States.
4. Salt Water Taffy Makers Have a Sweet Spot for the Military
Did you know that two of the best known salt water taffy makers in Atlantic City, New Jersey set aside their rivalry and teamed up to ship taffy overseas to the armed forces during World War II? The leading candy companies on the boardwalk at the time were Fralinger’s and James’ and they made it their mission to do what they could to help the troops get through the war. They even closed down their shop to the public for a few days at a time due to the sugar shortages, saving all the taffy they could for the military. Today, James Candy Company still makes these beloved boardwalk treats in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
5. Taffy Flavours are Endless!
There are so many creative candy geniuses out there who are coming up with new taffy flavours every day. There are easily more than 100 taffy flavours available for candy lovers today. Some of the most popular flavours include Laffy Taffy Banana, Watermelon, Peppermint, and Chocolate. No taffy candy line up is complete without a few wacky flavours so take a walk on the wild side and try some Cherry Cola, Peanut Butter and Jelly, or even Chili Mango! If you have a hard time deciding on just one flavour, your best bet is to get the assorted variety!
Now you know all there is to know about taffy! The next time you’re lounging at the beach with sand in between your toes, entertain your friends and family with some of the fun facts you learned about taffy. They’ll think you’re a candy genius! If you like drooling over delicious looking candy pictures, why not give us a follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to check out all the latest taffy candy and more!