Salt-water Taffy

When was the last time you had Salt-water Taffy?

Probably as a child, right?  I can’t find one friend these days that will eat the stuff.  It’s considered “gross”, “nasty”, “unhealthy”, “bad for you”, and who knows what it’s made of.  Well, I’m gonna tell you…

Salt-water Taffy is a beach store staple.  Bet you can’t go into any souvenir store along any beach and not find a stack of boxes of this special seaside treat.  It is said to have originated in Atlantic City, NJ after a candy store was flooded by a hurricane and the owner offered his water-logged taffy as “Salt-water Taffy”.  It soon caught on as a popular confection and manufactured by many candy stores along all of the US coasts and beyond.

It’s simple ingredients include sugar, corn starch, corn syrup, butter, water, glycerin, flavorings and, of course, salt.  Variations depend on the maker but these are the main, and simple, ingredients.  Sounds no different than most other confections.  So why do people I know not want to eat it?  Maybe they actually do but don’t want to admit it.  I won’t bother interviewing anyone, so we’ll just have to face the fact that there is a love-hate relationship with Salt-water Taffy.

My fond childhood memories include spending a lot of time in Ocean  City Maryland.  I grew up in a Baltimore suburb but my dad’s older brother lived in Ocean City and we would spend all of our free time hanging with my uncle and his family.  Every trip ended with a purchase of Salt-water Taffy for the ride home.  My favorites were the white ones with the red stripes down the sides (peppermint), the white taffy with the green stripes down the sides (spearmint) and the  total green taffy bites.  Oh, they were so good.  I would have to fight my brothers for them, and most of the time I won.

This past weekend, my husband, children and I took a road trip to Seaside FL.  One the way home along Hwy 98 we stopped at a souvenir shell store and when I was paying for my purchase I noticed a jar of Salt-water Taffy on the counter. The sign read “8 cents each”, so I picked out a white one with red stripes just for the sake of it.  Eight cents is a non-committal salt-water taffy purchase.  I’m not stuck with a box of unwanted flavors.  I’m not stuck with a large box that my family will see and cause me embarrassment.  I’m not at risk for jokes about being a salt-water taffy eater.  So I just got one piece for 8 cents.  I even stopped just outside the door, opened the wrapper and plopped the taffy in my mouth so no one would see me eat it.

Oh how incredible!  The taste brought tears to my eyes as I was transported back in time…Ocean City, beach days, my cousins, Maryland Crab Cakes, SPF 20 mixed with iodine, the Boardwalk, AM radio playing from the Vista Cruiser dashboard as we drove over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.salt water taffy (c) eileensaunders

I walked back into the store and bought 2 more pieces.

Joking, I said to the woman behind the register, “You probably think I’m nuts coming back for another piece of taffy, huh?”  She shook her head and, laughing, said, “You’d be surprised how many people come back for another.  Reminds you of your childhood, doesn’t it?”  I agreed and we both laughed.

So, when was the last time you had Salt-water Taffy?

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