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Salt Water Taffy Sour Taffy: A Friendly History

Salt water taffy is a classic American candy that has been enjoyed for over a century. The origins of this chewy treat are steeped in legend and lore, with several stories claiming to be the true source of its creation. One popular tale involves a candy shop owner whose stock of taffy was soaked in salt water during a storm, leading to the creation of the now-famous “salt water taffy.”

Despite its name, salt water taffy does not actually contain any sea water. Instead, it gets its name from the fact that it was originally made with salt water as a key ingredient. The candy’s unique texture and flavor have made it a beloved treat for generations, with many fans seeking out their favorite flavors at boardwalks and candy shops across the country. Whether you prefer classic flavors like vanilla and chocolate or more adventurous options like sour apple and grape, there’s a salt water taffy out there for everyone to enjoy.

Origins of Salt Water Taffy

Salt Water Taffy is a type of soft and chewy candy that has been around since the late 1800s. The origin of Salt Water Taffy is believed to be in Atlantic City, New Jersey. According to historians, a candy shop owner named Joseph Fralinger experimented with different recipes and eventually developed a unique combination of corn syrup, sugar, and salt. He then named it Salt Water Taffy.

Another story attributes the creation of Salt Water Taffy to a gentleman named John Ross Edmiston. He owned a small boardwalk postcard shop in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and hired a man named David Bradley to sell taffy alongside his wares. While Edmiston eventually fired Bradley, he kept the popular candy.

The most popular story about the origin of the name “Salt Water Taffy” is that a storm flooded Bradley’s store in 1883, and his entire stock of taffy was soaked with salty Atlantic Ocean water. When a young girl asked if he had any taffy for sale, Bradley jokingly offered her “saltwater taffy.” The name stuck, and Salt Water Taffy became a popular treat along the Jersey Shore.

Over time, Salt Water Taffy became a beloved candy, and many candy makers began to create their own versions of the treat. Today, Salt Water Taffy is sold in a variety of flavors and colors, and it remains a popular treat for people of all ages.

Evolution of Sour Taffy Flavors

Early Sour Variations

Sour taffy flavors have been around for almost as long as the candy itself. Early sour taffy flavors were often created by adding citric acid to the taffy mixture. These flavors were typically lemon or lime, and were popular among those who enjoyed a tart candy.

As the popularity of sour taffy grew, candy makers began to experiment with different sour flavors. Some of the early sour taffy flavors included grapefruit, orange, and even sour apple. These flavors were a hit with consumers, and helped to cement sour taffy’s place in the candy world.

Modern Innovations

Today, sour taffy flavors are more varied than ever before. In addition to the classic lemon and lime flavors, candy makers now offer sour taffy in a wide range of fruit flavors, including cherry, raspberry, and blueberry.

Some candy makers have even taken sour taffy to the next level by combining it with other flavors. For example, some sour taffy flavors now include a hint of salt, while others are infused with spicy chili pepper.

Overall, the evolution of sour taffy flavors has been a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of candy makers. Whether you prefer a classic lemon flavor or a more adventurous combination, there’s a sour taffy flavor out there for everyone to enjoy.

Manufacturing Process

Ingredients Selection

To make sour saltwater taffy, the manufacturers select high-quality ingredients. The essential components include sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, salt, water, glycerin, and flavoring. The manufacturers use invert sugar instead of regular sugar to prevent the candy from crystalizing. They also use natural and artificial flavorings to create a unique taste.

Pulling and Shaping

After selecting the ingredients, the manufacturers mix them in a large copper kettle and heat them to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. They then transfer the mixture to a lower bin and let it cool down. Next, they pull and stretch the candy until it becomes light and fluffy. The pulling process also incorporates air into the candy, giving it a chewy texture. The manufacturers then shape the candy into long ropes and cut them into small pieces.

Flavoring and Coloring

Once the candy is shaped, the manufacturers add different flavors and colors. They use natural and artificial flavorings to create a variety of tastes, including sour apple, cherry, and grape. The manufacturers also add food coloring to give the candy a vibrant appearance. They use FDA-approved food coloring to ensure the candy is safe to consume.


After adding the flavors and colors, the manufacturers wrap the candy in wax paper or plastic. They also package the candy in boxes or bags and label them with the flavor and ingredients. The packaging helps to preserve the candy’s freshness and prevent it from sticking together.

In summary, sour saltwater taffy manufacturing process involves selecting high-quality ingredients, pulling and stretching the candy, adding flavors and colors, and packaging the candy. The process requires precision and expertise to create a delicious and unique candy that customers love.

Cultural Impact

Salt Water Taffy in Pop Culture

Salt Water Taffy has become a popular topic in various forms of media. In the 1940s, the song “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters mentions “salt water taffy” as a treat to enjoy while spending time on the boardwalk. In the 2012 movie “The Watch,” a character played by Jonah Hill is seen eating salt water taffy while on a stakeout. The candy has also been featured in TV shows such as “The Simpsons” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Festivals and Events

Salt Water Taffy has become so iconic that it has inspired festivals and events dedicated to the candy. The Atlantic City Seafood Festival, held annually in New Jersey, features a “Salt Water Taffy Land” where attendees can sample various flavors of the candy. The Ocean City Taffy Festival, also held in New Jersey, celebrates the history of salt water taffy with activities such as taffy sculpting and taffy eating contests. Additionally, the National Candy Month, celebrated in June, often highlights salt water taffy as one of the most popular candies in America.

Overall, Salt Water Taffy has become an integral part of American culture, with its sweet and chewy texture and unique flavors making it a beloved treat for generations.

Geographical Spread

Salt Water Taffy in the United States

Salt Water Taffy has been a beloved American candy for over a century. It originated in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but has since spread to many other coastal cities in the United States. Today, it can be found in candy stores and gift shops all along the East Coast, from Maine to Florida. Some popular brands include Taffy Town, James Candy Company, and Shriver’s.

International Presence

While Salt Water Taffy is primarily an American treat, it has gained popularity in other countries as well. In Canada, it can be found in coastal towns such as Halifax and St. John’s. In the United Kingdom, it is known as seaside rock and can be found in many seaside towns. It has also gained popularity in Japan, where it is often sold as a souvenir from American theme parks.

Overall, Salt Water Taffy’s popularity has spread beyond its American roots and has become a beloved treat around the world.

Economic Significance

Industry Growth

Salt water taffy has been a popular candy in the United States since the late 1800s. The industry has experienced steady growth over the years, with many manufacturers producing the candy in a variety of flavors. According to a report by IBISWorld, the salt water taffy industry has a revenue of $51 million annually, with an annual growth rate of 2.3%.

The popularity of salt water taffy has led to the creation of several small businesses, particularly in coastal areas. Many candy shops and souvenir stores sell salt water taffy as a popular tourist attraction, making it a significant contributor to the local economy.

Major Manufacturers

There are several major manufacturers of salt water taffy in the United States, including Taffy Town, Sweet Candy Company, and James Candy Company. Taffy Town, founded in 1916, is one of the oldest manufacturers of salt water taffy. They produce over 70 flavors of taffy and have expanded their business to include other candy products.

Sweet Candy Company, founded in 1892, is another major manufacturer of salt water taffy. They produce a variety of taffy flavors, including sour taffy. James Candy Company, founded in 1880, is known for their original salt water taffy recipe and their famous Fralinger’s brand.

These major manufacturers have contributed significantly to the growth of the salt water taffy industry and continue to produce high-quality taffy for consumers to enjoy.

Health and Nutrition

Salt water taffy is a sweet candy that has been enjoyed by many people for over a century. While it is not the healthiest snack option available, it does have some nutritional benefits. Salt water taffy contains a small amount of potassium, which is an essential mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and supports healthy muscle function.

It is important to note that salt water taffy is high in sugar and calories, so it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. A 4-piece serving of Taffy Town’s Salt Water Taffy contains 140 calories and 28 grams of sugar.

For those who are watching their sugar intake, sugar-free options are available. However, it is important to keep in mind that sugar-free taffy may contain artificial sweeteners, which can have their own health implications.

Overall, salt water taffy should be enjoyed in moderation as a sweet treat. It is important to maintain a balanced diet and to consume sugary snacks in moderation to maintain good health.

Legal Battles and Trademark Issues

Salt water taffy has had its fair share of legal battles and trademark issues. In the 1920s, John R. Edmiston obtained a trademark for the term “Salt Water Taffy” and demanded royalties from the nation’s larger taffy companies. This resulted in a lengthy legal battle that made its way to the Supreme Court. The court ultimately agreed to settle the issue.

Enoch James, who developed machines to pull the candy, invented the process of making salt water taffy. His process and recipe are still used by many confectioners today. However, Edmiston filed for a trademark on the name “Salt Water Taffy” and claimed ownership of the candy. Despite this, many candy makers continued to produce salt water taffy without paying royalties to Edmiston.

Today, salt water taffy is still a popular candy enjoyed by many. Its history is filled with legal battles and trademark issues, but it remains a beloved treat.