Salt water taffy
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|Place of origin||United States|
|Region or state||Santa Barbara, California|
|Main ingredients||sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerine, water, butter, salt, flavoring, food coloring|
|Cookbook: Salt Water Taffy Media: Salt Water Taffy|
The original invention of the candy has several different stories circulating, likely all apocryphal, but usually all relating to an assistant who substitutes sea water for fresh water—either through laziness or accident. Joseph Fralinger popularized the candy by boxing it and selling it in Atlantic City. Fralinger's first major competition came from candy maker Enoch James, who refined the recipe, making it less sticky and easier to unwrap. James also cut the candy into bite-sized pieces, and is credited with mechanizing the "pulling" process. Both Fralinger's and James's stores still operate on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Both companies have been owned and operated by the Glaser Family since 1947.
On August 21, 1923, John Edmiston obtained a trademark for the name "salt water taffy" (number 172,016), then demanded royalties from companies using his newly acquired name. He was sued over this demand, and in 1925, the trademark was invalidated as being in common use.
Salt water taffy is still sold widely on the boardwalks in Atlantic City (including shops in existence since the 1800s), nearby island Ocean City, and other popular beaches throughout the United States and Atlantic Canada, as well as in Salt Lake City, Utah. Taffy is also distributed throughout the U.S. to some specialty shops and markets, and other places where an especially wide and diverse variety of candy is sold. It is also available for mail order through Internet sources.
Salt water taffy is composed of sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerine, water, butter, salt, natural and/or artificial flavor, and food color. Some examples of flavoring include vanilla, lemon, maple, banana, red licorice, watermelon, raspberry or mint extracts. Despite its name the taffy contains no salt water (seawater). However, it does contain both salt and water.
Taffy was first cooked in copper kettles over open coal fires, cooled on marble slabs, and pulled on a large hook on the wall. The 'Taffy Pull' was a household enjoyment on Saturday nights as well as an Atlantic City enterprise. Pulling taffy is designed to add air to the corn syrup and sugar confection. By draping 10 to 25 pounds of cooled taffy over the hook and then pulling away from the hook, the taffy stretches. When the taffy reaches a 5- or 6-foot length where it might become too heavy for itself and fall off the hook, the puller loops the taffy back over the hook, folding it onto itself and trapping air between the two lengths of taffy. This process of aeration helps to keep the taffy soft. The pulled taffy was shaped by hand-rolling it on marble or wooden tables into a 1⁄4-inch-diameter (6.4 mm) snake. It was then cut to a 2-inch length with scissors and, finally, wrapped in a pre-cut piece of wax paper with a twist at both ends. All of this was done by hand and usually within the sight of boardwalk strollers. The popular purchase in the 1880s was a 5-cent bag.
- Mother Stearn's Candy Co. "The Origins of Salt Water Taffy"
- Genovese, Peter. "Chew on this: 125 years later, Jersey Shore still daffy over salt water taffy" in The Newark Star Ledger, August 19, 2013
- Sharkey, Joe (November 11, 2001), "Traces of the place at high tide", The New York Times, retrieved 2011-06-25
- recipe: Saltwater Taffy. Exploratorium, San Francisco, California, USA