A lot of us loves salt water taffy, have you ever wondered who first made it? The most popular explanation of the creator and name maker is that of a candy-store owner, David Bradley, whose shop was flooded during a major storm in 1883. His entire stock of taffy was soaked with salty Atlantic Ocean water. Shortly afterward, a young girl came into his shop and asked if he had any taffy for sale. He jokingly offered her some “salt water taffy.” After sampling a piece, the girl purchased the candy and proudly walked down to the beach to show her friends. Bradley’s mother was in the back of the store and overheard the whole conversation. Loving the name “saltwater taffy”, was to become its current name.
Taffy was first cooked in copper kettles over open coal fires, cooled on marble slabs, and pulled from a large hook. The “Taffy Pull” was a household enjoyment on Saturday nights as well as an Atlantic City enterprise. The process of pulling taffy adds air to the corn syrup and sugar mix. First the puller got the taffy to about a 5 foot length, then it is looped over itself on the hook, trapping air between the two lengths of taffy. This process of aeration helped to keep the taffy soft. The pulled taffy was shaped by hand-rolling it on marble or wooden tables. 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.
Whatever the origins, Joseph Fralinger really popularized the candy by boxing it and selling it as an Atlantic City souvenir. Fralinger’s first major competitor was 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.
Today’s taffy is cooked in large stainless steel or copper kettles and then vacuum cooked a second time. The pulling and packaging is now done with machines. This produces much more taffy at greater speeds.
Salt water taffy is still sold on the boardwalks in Atlantic City, nearby island Ocean City, and other tourist beachfront areas throughout the United States and Canada