Saltwater taffy, sometimes spelled “salt water taffy,” is a beloved American treat most closely associated with the eastern seaboard. But what exactly is it, and how did it gain popularity? Is all taffy the same? If you’ve ever wondered about this delectable treat, learn the answers to all these questions and more – including the basic saltwater taffy ingredients in case you want to make your own!
What is saltwater taffy?
Did you know saltwater taffy is just one variation of taffy? Taffy, also called soft taffy, is a simple soft candy made from a mixture of boiled sugar and oil or butter that is stretched or pulled repeatedly until it achieves a light, airy, chewy texture. Confectioners use fruit, artificial flavors or molasses and food coloring to create taffy in different flavors and pastel colors.
So, what makes saltwater taffy unique? Saltwater taffy is a variety of taffy originally popularized in Atlantic City, New Jersey. However, the history is a little murky. Keep reading to learn more.
The history of saltwater taffy
The history of saltwater taffy is mostly word-of-mouth. One thing that’s certain is that it was invented in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the early 1900s. During this time, Atlantic City was a major tourist hub where visitors would stroll on the boardwalk, listen to jazz music, gamble and more. It was also at this time when saltwater taffy became a staple of the boardwalk.
According to legend, confectioner David Bradley owned a candy stand on the boardwalk that was accidentally flooded with seawater. He claims he sold the candy anyway and thus “saltwater taffy” was born. Other reports say confectioner Joseph Fralinger is responsible for popularizing the candy and possibly being the first to cut it into bite-sized pieces. At least two other confectioners in Atlantic City have been named as competitors, so we may never know the full story!
Though saltwater taffy ingredients do include salt and water, there is no evidence that the candy is actually made with seawater. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s the perfect treat for a day at the beach!
How is saltwater taffy made?
Like all soft taffy, saltwater taffy is made by stretching or pulling a mixture of sugar and fat over and over until it becomes aerated, or filled with small air bubbles. This gives the mixture a soft, chewy texture that can then be molded into bite-sized pieces.
Saltwater taffy ingredients are fairly simple. The candy is made from sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerine, butter, water, and salt. Other saltwater taffy ingredients can include food coloring and natural or artificial flavorings, especially fruit flavors.
Make your own saltwater taffy
Did you know you can make your own saltwater taffy? It may require some elbow grease, but it can be a fun activity for the adventurous home confectioner. The internet abounds with saltwater taffy recipes for every flavor you could imagine, so simply find the recipe that sounds best to you.
The most important thing to consider when making your own saltwater taffy is the work involved. Candy-making requires the ability to cook sugar to very precise temperatures, and saltwater taffy is no different. You’ll need a candy thermometer to make sure you don’t under- or overcook the sugar.
You will also need to be careful not to burn yourself or your cooking partners with the hot saltwater taffy ingredients. Make sure you have the tools to properly handle your ingredients, including:
- A heavy-bottomed pan
- A baking sheet
- A wooden spoon (metal spoons can impact the temperature of the sugar mixture as you stir)
- A rubber spatula
- Food-safe plastic gloves
- Non-stick spray
- Wax paper
If you want an extra challenge, you can try using food coloring to create stripes or patterns in your saltwater taffy!
Gourmet Saltwater Taffy
When that sweet tooth flares up, there’s nothing better than a fruity, chewy treat. But if you’re not up to the challenge of DIY taffy, no problem! Candy Club has unique flavors of saltwater taffy to satisfy your cravings. Candy Club taffies are available to both individuals and wholesale partners, so if you own a business, you can get them right on your shelves!